The Knicks host the Raptors Sunday night in the second of three meetings between these teams this season. The Raptors won the previous matchup on December 31st 100-83 in Tampa.
The Raptors have won three of their last five games after Gary Trent Jr. scored a career-high 44 points in Saturday’s 135-115 win over the Cavaliers. The Knicks are coming off Friday’s 133-129 overtime win over the Grizzlies as Julius Randle led them with a triple-double.
Raptors Need Trent to Stay HotIf the Raptors win and cover, they will need players like Pascal Siakam, and Gary Trent Jr. to step up as their team works to get healthier. Kyle Lowry (foot infection) is probable while Fred VanVleet (hip), Pual Watson (health and safety protocols), and Jalen Harris (hip) are all doubtful.
Trent and Siakam will play key roles for the Raptors as they will likely be without Fred VanVleet while Lowry may play. They will need to score at a high level while playing high-level defense. Trent has been hit-or-miss with his three-point shooting lately, and if he can have a quality performance, it will go a long way toward a Raptors’ win.
Gary Trent Jr. tonight:— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 11, 2021
44 PTS (career-high)
He joins Giannis Antetokounmpo and Klay Thompson as the only players with a 40-point game on 85% shooting since 2010. pic.twitter.com/1tsQ7wUbCS
Siakam will need to step up offensively if VanVleet can’t play, and he will also need to play well defensively when he matches up with the Knicks’ best player, Julius Randle. OG Anunoby will also need to step up and make timely shots while his defense on RJ Barrett will also be key.
Barrett and Randle Lead the KnicksIf the Knicks cover as slight home favorites, they will need RJ Barrett and Julius Randle at their best. John Henson (calf) is out while Mitchell Robinson remains out indefinitely with a fractured foot.
It will be important that Barrett and Randle stretch the Raptors’ defense with their ability to drive the basketball and shoot from beyond the arc. After struggling shooting threes as a rookie and early this season, Barrett has shot over 46% on threes since the start of February (which ranks in the 94th percentile among wings). Barret has played the best basketball of his career lately, and he made a game-tying basket in transition on Friday to send the Knicks into overtime where they would eventually beat the Grizzlies. He and All-Star Julius Randle will need to make shots to keep up with the Raptors, especially if Gary Trent Jr. picks up his scoring from where he left off on Saturday.
Big time play from RJ Barrett. Got the rebound, zero hesitation. Big thing isn't just the confidence but the control. Brought it up and then slowed down with Morant in front of him. Great moves, initiates contact and then finishes. pic.twitter.com/vFV8OFKnSX— Steve Jones Jr. (@stevejones20) April 10, 2021
The Knicks will also need Randle and Barrett to step up as playmakers. They are more than capable as distributors as Randle’s assist rate (27.3%) ranks in the 97th percentile among bigs while Barrett’s assist rate (13.9%) ranks in the 77th percentile among wings. They will need to continue playing elite defense while secondary scorers like Alec Burks, Reggie Bullock, Immanuel Quickley, and Derrick Rose step up to win and cover.
- Raptors are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a losing straight-up record.
- Raptors are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS win.
- Raptors are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight-up win.
- Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games playing on 0 days rest.
- Knicks are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Knicks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
- Knicks are 14-4 ATS in their last 18 games vs. a team with a losing straight-up record.
- Knicks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS win.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Raptors are the flashier team, the Knicks are better because of their elite defense. While Gary Trent Jr. continues to impress with his scoring uptick this season, RJ Barrett continues to improve on both ends of the court as the Knicks jockey for playoff positioning. Expect the knicks’ defense, which has the best three-point percentage defense in the NBA (33.8%) to keep the Raptors’ offense that averages the third-most three-point attempts (41.75 of shots) in check as they win and cover as home favorites at Madison Square Garden.
Full-Game Total Pick
Take the under in what should be a physical matchup that suits the style of the Knicks at home. The Raptors’ offense will struggle to score consistently against the Knicks if VanVleet can’t play as Trent will be one of the only players who can consistently generate his own looks from beyond the arc. The under has hit in seven of the last 10 Knicks games against teams with a winning % below .400, and this trend should continue on Sunday.