2012 Game Preview: Knicks @ Raptors

The “Quick Reaction” format premiered the last time we met the Raptors. It was in NYC, a five point loss, and in it, Mike Kurylo poetically promised us that:

  1. It’s
  2. not
  3. time
  4. to
  5. panic.

Thomas B.’s response was,

If I may quote the esteemed galactic Senator Jar Jar Binks:

“Monsters out there, leaking in here. Weesa all sinking and no power. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble?”


For a time, Jar Jar and Thomas B.’s concerns proved prescient. The Knicks went on to lose twelve of their next eighteen contests. Then, a New Hope was born. Jeremy Lin, California-raised and Harvard-trained, emerged as a leader for an injury-riddled Knicks team. Leaving behind the safety of Dagobah, which is located right next to Renaldo Balkman, Lin rushed out to the court to rescue his compatriots from falling to the dark side (i.e. the Nets).

Now respected as a leader on the team, Lin followed up the Nets victory with stellar (interstellar?) performances against Utah and Washington. Against Los Angeles, despite repeated attempts by the Lakers to slice off his left hand (as well as other parts of his body), Lin and the Knicks prevailed. In icy Minnesota, Lin struggled to finish near the rim. He was blocked four times and regularly bullied by the brutish duo of Kevin Love and Nikola “Ricola” Pekovic. He appeared to be “running on fumes.” Still, the team managed to steal a win on the back of some amazing fourth quarter defense and some bad turnovers by Ricky Rubio.

The Raps are nowhere near the team that Wolves or Lakers are. They are a terrible team on offense (third worst in the league) and below average on defense. They are also missing (arguably) their best player in Andrea Bargnani (who, by the way, is no longer “Il Mago.” Instead, he is “Flipper.”). The Raptors were near a .500 team before Bargnani went down, but since then they are 5-11. They are not bad at the level of the Wizards, Nets, Hornets, or Bobcats, but they are not very good. Still, there is a lot to be excited about in this game.

Here are some things I’ll be thinking about as I watch:

1) What puns can we make that combine the names of Amaré Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin? This will be a real test of Lin’s ability to adapt and read the defense. These last five games, it seems like nine times out of ten the Knicks started with a Chandler/Lin pick and roll. Now, on that same play Lin will have Amaré Stoudemire as a passing option. How will he involve Amaré? Furthermore, how often will we see Amaré as the roll man? Amaré, is not as big a target as Chandler, but his abilities around the rim are much more diverse, especially if you get him the ball at the right moment. He has a variety of flip shots that he is really consistent with from up to five feet out, and he has the agility to make a the catch on the pick and roll and slip past defenders. This seems like it might make Lin’s life easier, but that will only be the case if Lin can quickly adjust to Amaré’s unique skills.

2) How will Toronto defend Lin? We saw him doubled and even triple teams these last few games, but that often happened with Jared Jeffries on the floor. How will Amaré’s presence influence the defense against Lin?

3) D’Antoni has often remarked that one of the reasons Lin didn’t stand out to him when he tried out in 2010 was that he couldn’t finish at the rim. He had some difficulties with this in the second half of the Minnesota game. Perhaps this was due to fatigue, but there’s also the chance that he simply found a good rhythm for a few games. Toronto doesn’t have great bigs, and Calderon is a defensive sieve. This should mean buckets galore for Lin…

4) Who will take the shots? Lin’s usage rate so far has been 31.5%, just shy of Carmelo’s 32.7%. With Stoudemire back on the floor, will Lin become more of a distributor?

5) How will the defense look? The last five games, the Knicks have allowed opponents a FG% of 42.5% and a three-point percentage of 26.8%. On the season, they allow opponents to shoot 44.6% from the field and  37.1% from distance. As much as Lin has helped, this increased defensive intensity is just as much a part of the win streak. Calderon, Barbosa and James Johnson are threats from distance, and Amaré is notoriously bad at rotating out to shooters.

That’s all I have for now, Knicks fans. Enjoy the game, and may the force be with you.

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max fisher-cohen

In addition to writing for Knickerblogger, Max teaches English at Tallahassee Community College and writes short stories. He recently finished a feature screenplay, and he is working right now to raise the funds to film it. You can check it out on Kickstarter.

51 thoughts to “2012 Game Preview: Knicks @ Raptors”

  1. “Leaving behind the safety of Dagobah, which is located right next to Renaldo Balkman.”

    Well done, Max. The force is strong with this one.

  2. Yeah, I thought that was a pretty funny response. I am glad someone took notice of it, and then put it to such good use. May the force be with you Max. Well done.

  3. James Johnson isn’t a threat from distance. At all. He can’t hit any kind of jumper with any sort of regularity. I’ve seen parts of every Raptors game, James Johnson shooting threes is not something you should ever be afraid of.

  4. @Thomas

    Yeah, that comment was hilarious. Jar Jar is comedy gold.

    @David Crockett

    And how would Clyde pronounce that?

  5. Another great thing about this post Max, is that it takes us back to January 2, 2012, which is when some of the earliest Lin talk started. One astute poster noted that Lin should get more time, and that it should come from Bibby’s minutes. Some other long time poster thought ( I won’t say who) that giving minutes to Lin was a horrible idea. Take a look. It is a pretty funny exchange starting at comment 13.

  6. I need to become better at tweeting first. Until I grok that, I think I’m just an egg. This whole “putting your real name on the internet” thing still weirds me out a little.

  7. Great job max fisher-cohen and a cool name to boot. I came home quite maxed and your article was a welcome diversion. Also, I think I have finally understood a reference—does “grok” derive from Clockwork Orange or am I miserably off base as usual? Is it at least a SciFi reference? Anyway, Jon Abby, to foment my misery, I guess I’ll listen to some Dixieland jazz, Benny Goodman and then some disco. Go Knicks and thank you max.

  8. Silly question but is the Sports Illustrated cover with Jeremy Lin photoshopped? I don’t remember a time where he drove into the lane with 5 Lakers in it.

  9. Spree8nyk8:
    Silly question but is the Sports Illustrated cover with Jeremy Lin photoshopped?I don’t remember a time where he drove into the lane with 5 Lakers in it.

    I haven’t seen it yet, but they would never do that (coming from someone who used to work in the photo dept. of their sister mag Time).

  10. daJudge:
    Anyway, Jon Abby, to foment my misery, I guess I’ll listen to some Dixieland jazz, Benny Goodman and then some disco.

    I recommend the 12 inch of Arthur Russell-Kiss Me Again (never released on CD) and the Larry Levan-Live At The Paradise Garage double CD on Strut on the disco front.

  11. Thanks, DaJudge. Grok AFAIK comes from Stranger in a Strange Land (yes, scifi) by Robert Heinlein. It means to understand on a fuller or deeper level. It’s centered around a guy raised by Martians who train him in their Buddhist/matrix-esque way of thought (religion?), which allows him to control reality in certain ways. People who are just starting out in the study of this way of thought are called “eggs.” I always wondered if twitter was making a Heinlein reference by defaulting newbies to the egg avatar.

  12. that’s a good pic, but maybe a somewhat deceptive camera angle as I don’t think Barnes is really in the play.

  13. Thank you max, I remember now. And thanks for the hip tunes Jon, p.s., I’m sending you my next outlaw country song!

  14. Just checking in. I see Amar’e has picked up where he left off. Is he missing off the pick and roll now at least?

  15. @26, premature, maybe?
    @25, he missed 3 shots in first possession, all under the basket.
    He looks a bit eager and is forcing it. He has had open looks.

  16. Game Thread?

    And I wish this was streaming in HD somewhere because Kora is laggy.
    Plus the Toronto announcers are annoying.

  17. DRed:
    The lineup we’ve got out there has 4 points in about 20 minutes of combined court time.

    Billy Walker, I’m looking at you.

  18. Nice to see the Knicks come out defensively with the attitude of the Raptors suck so why bother covering them.

  19. No matter how bad he’s doing, he sure is a 5x better option than anyone else on the Knicks for PG. That is, until he plays like Bibby.

    jon abbey:
    Lin abused once again, this is ugly.

  20. Degree_Absolute: Amare = 1/6
    Walker = 1/4
    Fields = 1/4

    he wasn’t getting much help offensively in the recent games either, but Calderon is going off and Lin has 4 turnovers already.

  21. jon abbey: he wasn’t getting much help offensively in the recent games either, but Calderon is going off and Lin has 4 turnovers already.

    I think your expectations are unreasonable.

  22. BigBlueAL: This has been one ugly ass game so far.

    Not many guys can create your offense every time down the floor.

    I know we’re supposed to hate Melo here, but he might be able to take some pressure off the kid

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