Last night the Knicks were in action and taking on the Sixers. The 2 teams had met once before this season in New York. I happened to work that game for The Score. The Knicks would fall way behind before making a huge comeback only to eventual drop the game in an overtime that was dominated by Philadelphia. This one would end up being a close affair as well. David Lee was big for the Knicks and would hit the eventual winning shot as he had 21 points and 9 rebounds in the Knicks 93-92 win. He was playing with the news that his 92 year old grandfather had passed away. He is leaving the team and not sure if he will be back for the game vs the Raptors. If he isn't that would be an unfortunate way for the Raptors to get an advantage.
The Knicks jumped out to an early lead only to have the Sixers storm back. Sam Dalembert also playing with a heavy heart given the events recently in Haiti (Sam is from there and has many family and friends from his birthplace) . The Sixers dominated the glass especially the offensive glass(18) on route to winning the battle of the boards 54-37. Could this mean back to back good games on the boards for Andrea Bargnani who is coming of a season and I believe career high 17 vs Pacers. Well Sam Dalembert topped his season high with 21 in the game. Speaking of Italy and Bargnani it will be Italian Heritage night at MSG when the Raptors visit. The Knicks Italian star in Gallinari had an off night vs Sixers shooting just 4 for 11 from the field and had just one 3 pointer in 4 attempts for 12 points.
When the Knicks struggled on defense they tried switching to a zone which had some positive impact for a short time to close out the 3rd quarter. Some other Knicks to keep an eye on heading into this one would include Al Harrington. He has been having some knee issues and it was mentioned on the Knicks broadcast he will go for an MRI. He had 15 points and was 5 for 15 from the field not exactly the dominate player that in that first match-up almost single handed brought the Knicks back in that first match up at MSG with Sixers. Like the Raptors heading into last night the Knicks had dropped 2 in a row. The Knicks run a very tight rotation with just 8 players and the 8th was Johnathan Bender who played less than 8 minutes. Yes that Bender that the Raptors drafted to trade for Antonio Davis which would turn out to be one of the better trades in Raptors history.
In watching the Knicks you see a lot of the same things you do with the Raptors. A team that has it's defense come and go that relies on shooters and is looking to push the pace. There is no doubt the Raptors are the more talented of the 2 teams and the deeper of the 2 teams as well. Friday will mark the first time the Raptors have faced the Knicks this season and this will be the first of four times they will do so this season. If Lee is out that should give the Raptors an even greater advantage on the inside with Bosh and Bargnani. The Knicks should struggle to find a way to guard both.
The short answer to how the Knicks played was a lot like how the Raptors did against Philly recently. They looked far from impressive but at the end got out of town with a win. The Knicks like the Raptors have been playing on higher level and like the Raptors have fallen off a bit of late.
As for The Raptors...
There has been a lot of talk about Hedo Turkoglu and his role along with the Raptors going with a line-up at the end of games of Jack, Calderon, Hedo, Bargnani and Bosh. The idea behind this line-up would be you have in a sense 3 point guards on the floor at the same time. But that may just be to many cooks on the court so to speak. Whenever Triano can play both Jack and Calderon together it is a way to keep both happy regardless of who is the starter. Both are in during crunch time and it adds to the minutes for both. However this is not exactly working out and you can argue it can make the Raptors weak on the defensive end of the floor. Calderon and Hedo are not exactly the greatest on the defensive end of the floor. Chris Bosh even can have his issues on the defensive end. It can lead to a collective issue in getting stops down the stretch. Jay Triano tries to sub offense for defense whenever possible but it can be an issue.
Turkoglu has questioned his role in the offense and did it in a public way. There is no doubt he is a good player with the basketball in his hands. However if you want people to listen to you it might be a wise idea to show more effort and play well in chances you have. Hedo has not done that more nights than he has in his brief time with the Raptors. If Andrea Bargnani wants to complain I will listen to him as he is doing a solid job on both ends of the floor. Hedo Turkoglu should look to make his own adjustments as well to fit in with the Raptors. It should be a two way street. Sorry to break it to the "Michael Jordan" of Turkey but he is not the best player on this basketball team. It is not like he should expect Jay Triano to turn things upside down for him. The truth be told the Raptors offense rarely struggles like they did in Indiana shooting just 21% down the stretch helping the Pacers to that victory on Monday. Hedo missed practice with some back trouble but is expected back on the floor today and will be a go vs the Knicks.
In terms of the whole point guard situation it also needs to get sorted out eventually. The 2 point guard look on the floor can only be used for so long. Granted this is a bit better pairing than the one of Ford and Calderon on the floor together. However it is still a gimmick that has a short life span in a given game. Let's be honest as well if Demar DeRozan or anyone else steps up and shows they can be counted on down the stretch they should be in there. The Raptors use this 2 point guard look as much to keep both point guards happy as they do the lack of having a true shooting guard that can produce game in and game out.
If the Raptors do move Jose Calderon it will be more about the lack of a impact shooting guard than it would be winning or losing a point guard battle with Jack. I still see that as a move that is unlikely to happen. However if Bryan Colangelo is able to get the right guy in return it would be possible. Calderon is the lone big piece the Raptors have that they would be willing to move at this point you have to figure. Beyond that really there is nothing beyond some guys who could be rotation players elsewhere.
If there are those of you that dream or dread a Chris Bosh deadline trade you can breath easy. There is no way that Bosh is dealt at the deadline unless he would go to Colangelo and say he wanted out. Which is not going to happen. It is good business for Chris Bosh to stay right where he is. At the end of the season he will decide on his future and when he does he will re-sign with the Raptors or work with them in getting a max contract for himself and a trade to another team he wants to call home. Any rumour that involves Chris Bosh moving at the deadline was created at fantasyland in Disney World or Disney Land. It makes no sense for any side of it.
- For the Raptors why trade Bosh when you can make the playoffs with him and trade him later for a higher value than his current contract and get more value in return.
- If you are Chris Bosh why would you leave 30 million dollars on the table and not take the money and work with an organization that has treated you well to help you move on to another place if that is his ultimate choice.
- If you are the team trading to get him why would you give what would be a ton of assets to get a player that can not sign with you and may not at the end of the day.
It may sound sexy to say Bosh is in play for the ESPN's and others but there is no logic to it at all. You would have to buy into the myth they have created that Chris Bosh is counting the days till he can leave Canada. Which is not true and even if was would it be worth 30 million bucks to leave 2 months early? Not really.
The Raptors best way to keep Bosh is win. So in a sense the whole Bosh scenario can be motivation for the Organization to win. It only becomes a distraction if Chris or the Raptors let it be. One of the places that has been one of the many landing spots for Bosh is the Raptors next opponent the New York Knicks. Unlike Lebron James handles it, Chris Bosh will not have shiny red sneakers and will likely say zero in terms of free agency. Bosh has handled this entire thing like a professional and that is not going to change. That is part of the reason you hope that he sticks around. Chris Bosh is perhaps one of the more low maintenance superstars in the game today.