Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight’s Knicks-Raptors game:
The end? The Knicks' “tragic” number is down to two. So a Knicks loss tonight, combined with a Hawks win against the Nets, would knock New York out of playoff contention.
Jason Kidd has already stated that he plans to rest some of his key players, so things don’t look good for the Knicks.
Any combination of Knicks losses or Hawks wins that add up to two would clinch the eighth seed for the Hawks. Atlanta plays Brooklyn, Miami, Charlotte and Milwaukee to end the season. After Friday’s game against the Raptors, the Knicks host Chicago, play Brooklyn on the road and close the season at home against Toronto.
If the Knicks finish the season 4-0, they’d need the Hawks to go 1-3 in order to qualify for the postseason. The Knicks have lost two straight and five of nine.
Melo’s shoulder: Carmelo Anthony has had four days to rest his injured shoulder. It will be interesting to see whether it affects his shot tonight. Anthony originally aggravated the shoulder last Wednesday against Brooklyn. In his next two games, Anthony shot just 9-for-31 and scored a total of 23 points, well below his 27.5 per-game average.
He had a season-high nine turnovers in a loss last Friday to Washington and didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter against the Heat last Sunday.
He’s said that his right arm felt dead at times and that he struggled to lift his arm above his shoulders. X-rays on the shoulder taken last week came back negative. Anthony did not undergo an MRI to reveal the extent of the damage.
Long division: The Knicks won the Atlantic Division last season and totaled 54 wins in the regular season. With a victory tonight, the Raptors can clinch the division crown and possibly kick the Knicks out of playoff contention. One reason for the reversal of fortune has been the presence of Andrea Bargnani, who was dealt from Toronto to the Knicks in the offseason.
The Knicks struggled on both ends of the floor with Bargnani healthy and have been a different team offensively since Bargnani went down with an elbow injury in late January. It’s hard not to imagine what the season would have been like if the Knicks had never dealt for Bargnani.
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