Game Preview: Huskies vs. Knicks

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

The Raptors return home to take on the Knicks and look to keep things rolling after going 2-0 on their road trip. Things will look a little different at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, with the Raptors wearing their blue throwback Toronto Huskies uniforms. Toronto comes into the game fresh off a 113-111 victory in Charlotte. The Knicks also played on Friday night, but were on the losing end of a 115-87 decision in Boston against the Celtics.

Tip-off: 7 P.M. ET

Broadcast info:TSN1, TSN4 / SN590

TALKING POINTS

Another game another talented point guard

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has talked plenty this season about the depth at the point guard position. One night after surviving a 40-point explosion from Kemba Walker in Charlotte, the Raptors will face Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings with the Knicks.

“The point guard position has a challenge every night,” Casey said. “We just had Russell Westbrook who I think is one of the most forceful guards in the league doing what he does, now Kemba Walker who is one of the quickest guys in the league with the basketball, then [coming up we have] Steph Curry, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving. It’s the league of the point guard.”

Not surprisingly, Casey’s solution to how to survive facing off against high-scoring guards, as always, is defence.

“The way you defend the position,” Casey said. “The key thing at the point guard position is which point guard can guard the other one.”

DeRozan shrugging off praise, ready to keep working

It’s beginning to feel routine for DeMar DeRozan to drop 30 points on any given night. Through the first eight games of the season, DeRozan is averaging a league-leading 34.1 points per game. Even more impressive, he’s making 53 percent of his field goals. 

After a 34-point performance in Toronto’s comeback victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, DeRozan was asked about the roll he’s on and how he’s able to continue coming through when his team needs him most.

“I try to play in slow motion,” he said. “And never let somebody else dictate what I do.”

Raptors coach Dwane Casey has repeatedly pointed out that the game appears to have slow down for DeRozan this season. Teammate Kyle Lowry said he’s down to ride DeRozan’s coattails while he’s on this tear, but also discussed how motivated his backcourt mate is to keep improving.

“He’s a different level right now,” Lowry said. “He wants to be the best player he can be and right now he’s proving he’s a hell of a player.” 

Lowry also had high words of praise for the team’s reserves who also came up big late in Charlotte.

“Honestly, the players that came in whenever their names are called, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win,” Lowry said. “Understanding both ends of the floor to help us maximize our full potential out there, it shows. They did a great job.”

Nogueira making an impact

Lucas Nogueira recognized an opportunity when Jonas Valanciunas missed two games with a left knee contusion. Stuck on the bench after recovering from a sprained ankle sustained during the preseason finale, Nogueira knew he needed to earn his place back in the rotation.

With two solid efforts in Valanciunas’ absence, Nogueira got the call on Friday in against the Hornets. His defence late in the fourth allowed Dwane Casey to keep him in the game, and his athleticism, length and mobility are a much-needed asset as the team continues to adjust defensively without former Raptor Bismack Biyombo coming off the bench.

“I thought Lucas did a good job [in Charlotte],” Casey said. “One of the reasons we didn't have JV in [during the fourth was] because Lucas was a bit more mobile, a bit better in the pick-and-roll situations.”