Game Day: Raptors @ Knicks
Jay Satur - Raptors.com
What to watch as the Raptors begin a three-game preseason road trip tonight in New York against the Knicks (7:30 PM ET). Just a heads up, there's no local broadcast or radio coverage for this one.
Keep An Eye On The Minutes: According to head coach Dwane Casey, expect minutes to be distributed a little more evenly for the remainder of the preseason. Casey wants to get his players in a rhythm before the start of the regular season, but given a recent spate of injuries around the league involving prominent names like Kevin Durant of the Thunder, Washington's Bradley Beal and Mavericks point guard Raymond Felton, minimizing injury risk in meaningless preseason games is also top of mind.
"It's a fine line and we dance that line all the time," Casey said on Sunday. "I thought the other night's game was about as competitive as you can get. I thought it was more like a regular-season game. But at the same time, we've got to be smart. I shouldn't have played Kyle [Lowry] 31 minutes in that game, but it was such a competitive game. I think his foul situation caused some of that change in the rotation. We want to be smart with the minutes and still establish our defensive identity and our offensive flow."
Battle For That Final Spot: Reduced minutes for the starters should mean more opportunities for Will Cherry, Jordan Hamilton and Greg Stiemsma, who has been cleared to return to action after passing the league's baseline concussion testing.
Casey had praise for the performance of all three players on Sunday, saying that any decision may not happen until just before the start of the regular season.
"We're in no hurry, it may go down to the wire, the last day of camp because those guys have deserved it and nobody has fallen off of those three."
Road Oddities: Tonight's game against the Knicks also begins a rare continuous three-game preseason road trip for the Raptors, which hasn't happened since 2004.
The team played three straight away from Air Canada Centre back in 2010 (also the last time they were in Vancouver for Training Camp), but returned home to practice.
Another weird road stat? Tonight is the first time the Raptors have faced the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in the preseason. They've played seven exhibition games against each other -- this year will actually see a third preseason meeting in Montreal -- but never before at MSG.
Familiar Faces: Should be fascinating to see a trio of ex-Raptors on the opposing bench tonight in Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Quincy Acy.
Bargnani sat out of New York's last preseason game with a hamstring strain, but the Knicks started to look comfortable in their triangle offence under new head coach Derrick Fisher and pulled out a 96-80 win over the Celtics.
Acy got the start in Bargnani's place and both he and Calderon contributed nine points and four rebounds in the win. Carmelo Anthony led the way for New York with 16 points and five rebounds, while JR Smith chipped in 14 points off the bench.
Watch more from Greivis Vasquez and Greg Stiemsma after Sunday's practice below: