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This game was originally scheduled to be on ESPN but after the terrible start for the Knicks and a not so hot start for the Raptors it was dropped from the schedule. So it will be a later start at 8pm. Ironically both the Knicks and Raptors have improved since getting the boot from ESPN. Overall the Knicks and Raptors have had a close all time series with the Knicks holding a 28-25 advantage. The Knicks are 18-9 at MSG vs the Raps though all-time. The teams split their 4 game series last season. The teams were once considered rivals meeting up in the playoffs in back to back seasons. Andrea Bargnani lead the Raptors in scoring vs the Knicks last season averaging 21.8 points in the 4 games. Gallinari and Andrea Bargnani could start to develop a rivalry battling for best NBA player out of Italy. Marco Belinelli may not go according to Eric Smith on the Fan 590. He is under the weather and may miss out on Italian Heritage Night at MSG. Also in doing my research did you know that Chris Duhon and Jarrett Jack are cousins? It is no T-Mac and V.C but something I stumbled on that I did not know.
Raptors will need to be on high alert for 3 balls as the Knicks average 26 attempts from beyond the arc only connecting on about 33% of those attempts. As I noted earlier in the week the Knicks got crushed on the boards in the win over the Sixers. David Lee has made it back to the team in time for this one after being away for a death in his family. He is expected to start. Lee was huge in that win for the Knicks and scored the winning basket in the win over Philly. This in the Knicks first game back after 3 on the road where they went 1-2.
Raptors come in well rested after blowing a 23 point lead to the Pacers on Monday. Hedo Turkoglu missed practice on Wednesday but is back and will play. Reggie Evans is also on the trip but no word on when Reggie will finally make his debut with the Raptors. If I was the Raptors I would keep that info under my hat and just one night have Reggie ready to go.
Demar DeRozan found out last night he is going to All Star Weekend and the NYC media was paying him a lot of attention as a result. It will be interesting to see how all this impacts on DeRozan making his first trip to MSG as a professional. Demar did play at MSG as a high schooler so this is not his first time stepping on the MSG floor. Last night in my rush to post the news about Demar DeRozan getting in this dunk off with Eric Gordon, I totally forgot Jamario Moon getting in the dunk contest. Much like Jamario totally forgot to play defense at times. So thanks to the person who left the comment reminding me.
Raptors really need to take advantage of the fact they play in the weak Atlantic Division and that means beating the Knicks, Nets and Sixers. It seems pretty clear that they can't beat Boston. So that makes those 12 other in Division games all the more vital for the Raptors.