The New York Knicks travel to face the Toronto Raptors, who have been struggling for consistency to start the season, on New Year's Eve. The Knicks are riding high after their second win of the 2020-21 NBA season against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Meanwhile, if the Toronto Raptors are to put up their first win of the year, they will require superior finishing during their close-outs.
Fixture: New York Knicks vs Toronto Raptors | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Thursday, December 31st, 7:30 p.m. ET (Friday 1st, 6 AM IST)
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
New York Knicks Preview
The New York Knicks have had a solid start to their season so far and had an impressive road win at the previously undefeated Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. Without star Alec Burks, the Knicks were able to contain the previous high-scoring Cavs to only 86 points and look as though coach Thibodeau's work is paying off.
The Knicks are developing nicely and now have two wins in a row after routing the Milwaukee Bucks prior to the Cavs game. If they are able to remain consistent throughout the season remains to be seen.
However, with the current trajectory they are on, they could have an outside chance at making the playoffs - an outcome nobody saw coming.
Key Player - Julius Randle
Julius Randle is showing that he was one of the best pick-ups the New York Knicks have made recently. Randle's name went slightly under the radar due perhaps to playing for a losing team. However, after four games the forward is playing like an All-Star.
Although there won't be an All-Star game this year, and it may be premature to laud the 26-year-old, it remains that Randle will be pivotal in the New York Knicks season. He is averaging 24.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists so far. Even if he is able to maintain this level of performance for three quarters of the season, the Knicks have a good chance of having an improved finish.
New York Knicks Predicted Lineup
G RJ Barrett, G Elfrid Payton, F Julius Randle, F Reggie Bullock, C Mitchell Robinson
Toronto Raptors Preview
Although they have run their opponents close in their last two fixtures, the Toronto Raptors are still without a win this season. Their best game so far came against the San Antonio Spurs where all five starters scored double-digit points. Fred VanVleet, who is usually Mr. Reliable, has had two off nights and the Raptors' usually tough defense now seems to have a soft interior.
The Toronto Raptors moved out of Canada during the offseason to Tampa in Florida. They will be hoping to secure their first competitive home win against a youthful Knicks on Thursday.
Despite having a rocky start, the Raptors should have too much talent for their opponents to deal with. However, if they begin poorly and allow the in-form Knicks into the game it could be a fourth loss in four games.
Key Player - Pascal Siakam
Siakam is averaging career-highs in rebounds and assists (9 and 4.7) to go with 18.7 points as the 26-year-old continues to prove his importance to the Toronto Raptors.
On Thursday, Siakam will have his hands full marking New York Knicks' in-form power forward Julius Randle. The Toronto Raptors forward has developed his game consistently throughout his four years with the franchise. This season may require him to push his performances to another level earlier than expected if they are to finish with home court advantage for the playoffs.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
G Kyle Lowry, G Fred VanVleet, F OG Anunoby, F Pascal Siakam, C Aron Baynes
New York Knicks vs Toronto Raptors Match Prediction
The New York Knicks are playing how a developing side should play - without fear. This season could be different for the franchise since head coach Tom Thibodeau appears to have all his players pulling in the same direction. Several players have started the season extremely well and will cause a lot of teams problems this year. Take the Milwaukee Bucks game as an example.
If the Toronto Raptors are hoping to put a first win on the board in this matchup, they will need to seriously tighten up their defense and have more shooting consistency. With these sorted, the Raptors should edge out their less-experienced opponents.
Where to watch Knicks vs Raptors?
Viewers in America will be able to watch the game live on Sportsnet. International fans can stream the match via the NBA League Pass.Published 31 Dec 2020, 02:00 IST