Game Thread: Knicks vs. Raptors

Before I get into discussion of tonight’s game between the New York Basketball Knickerbockers and the Toronto Basketsports Oviraptors, I want to indulge a bit of weirdness that I’m feeling. I began my brainstorming about this piece by checking the Raptors’ Basketball Reference page, browsing the particulars of their 2015-16 season. “B-Ref,” as the kids call it, continually adds tidbits of information, both quantitative and qualitative, to its mix. I spied a list of Raptors’ personnel at the top of the page, and the name “Nick Nurse” stared back at me. I tried to ignore it and get back to business, but I just couldn’t get it out of my head.

The Gregory Isaacs classic “Night Nurse” started occupying my brain, and there you have it. I got stuck. Here….take a minute and let it happen to you too…go on….

In more recent times, the dancehall riddim called “Doctor’s Darling” was based on Isaacs’ hit and might tickle your ears a little if you give it a chance. Anyway, it got me to wondering about Nick Nurse and who the heck he is… According to Wikipedia:

Nurse spent 12 seasons coaching in Europe, mostly in the British Basketball League (BBL). He won the BBL Coach of the Year Award in 1999–00 and 2003–04. In 2007, he accepted the head coaching job for the Energy, who were preparing for their first season in the NBA D-League. The Energy won division titles under Nurse in the 2008–09 and 2009–10 seasons. After three seasons with the team, Nurse agreed to join the coaching staff of the Iowa State Cyclones as an associate head coach in April 2010. Shortly afterward, however, Cyclones head coach Greg McDermott became the head coach at Creighton, and Nurse went back to his former position with the Energy. In the 2010–11 NBA D-League season, Nurse received the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award after helping Iowa achieve the best record in the league (37–13).

For the 2011–12 season, Nurse left the Energy for the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers. In the 2012–13 season, the Vipers finished with a record of 35–15 and won the D-League finals in a two-game sweep of the Santa Cruz Warriors. Nurse departed the Vipers for an assistant job with the Toronto Raptors.

That just feels like a very Raptor-y kind of thing – British Basketball League Two-Time Coach of the Year Nick Nurse. They also have an assistant coach named Jama Mahlalela, who was born in Swaziland and played for the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for five seasons, where he was team captain and Canada West champion in 2003. Cool. Anyway, this is my brain on drugs, if by “drugs” you mean “the Internet.” On to business…


The Raptors are in the top 10 of NBA teams in both offensive and defensive rating and have really continued to play solid basketball all year. Of course, they’re led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but have filled in behind those two dynamic players with strong contributors like Jonas Valanciunas, who is coming into his own as a 23-year old. DeMarre Carroll is out until after the All Star break after arthroscopic surgery, but a host of other Raptors have picked up the slack to build a 30-15 record. The team plays at one of the slowest paces in the league, which comes as something of a surprise given the athletes they employ, but it works for them. They don’t shoot the three at high volume like a lot of the elite teams, but when they do they hit them. They don’t foul very much, but they get to the foul line quite a bit. There are a number of things in that mix, which don’t bode well for the Knicks. With athletic, dynamic guard play the Raptors can hurt the Knicks in ways that always seem to hurt the Knicks. With efficient three point shooting, they can exploit the matador defense on the perimeter. With effective drives to the hoop, they can draw fouls, get in the penalty early, and put the New York boys to bed. There are dangers just ahead to be sure, especially without Carmelo Anthony, who is still sitting with that sore knee.

The Knicks play has been Jekyll and Hyde all season, and just maybe the strong play against Oklahoma City bodes well for an upswing during this tough stretch. With Golden State just ahead, it would be nice for the Knicks to grab a win against Toronto, the 1st place team in the division, and double up on the Suns tomorrow. With Melo out tonight, the Knicks will have to be as knifty as they were against the Thunder, and you have to hope he can return against the Suns so we can use beat them and use them as a surfboard when the Golden State tidal wave hits.

One non-game related note: There are rumors abuzz about the Knicks’ interest in Atlanta’s Jeff Teague. It’s very hard to imagine the Knicks having any kind of trade resources to acquire talented NBA players, so I take that news with the appropriate “Grant Hill wants to play in New York” skepticism. Teague compares favorably to Mike Conley if you look closely, and would come at a lower cap cost for next year. It would be a very nice trade, if the Knicks could pull it off without giving up the entire farm, but I can’t see it happening. My completely uninformed guess is that the Knicks stand pat this year, perhaps using a roster spot for a 10-day deal, and/or a D-League call up. (Thansis Antetokounmpo has been called up to play with the big boys while the team is dealing with their current injuries. Not sure he addresses the PG need, but the first one is up.) That’s just me, though. I could be wrong.

Enjoy the game, Knickerbuddies. Regards to Nick Nurse.

7:15pm UPDATE: We knew no Melo. Now there’s no Calderon, and….wait for it…no Porzingis. Our unicorn is experiencing some upper respiratory unicorn disease. Enjoy the blood bath, folks.

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82 thoughts to “Game Thread: Knicks vs. Raptors”

  1. The Western Conference All Star reserves are all kinds of nuts: Draymond Green, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge

    Those are the reserves!!!

  2. The league loves Boston. Isaiah Thomas is the only guy you could really make a case for….although I’d love to see Jared Sullinger spun around in circles like a cartoon character during that game.

  3. Who would you pick as snubs in the East? There are some good players not chosen in the West, but not a lot of room to move there with Kobe in the starting lineup. But is there anyone better than Isaiah out there?

  4. Brian…I guess if positions weren’t an issue, Pau Gasol is too good to not be on the team. His scoring is down a bit, but he’s averaging 11 boards, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. I’d also like to see Kemba Walker in there. Isaiah is great and a deserving All Star, but Kemba is having a career season and the Hornets would be competing for the #1 pick without him. I’d give him the edge over Thomas.

    I don’t think it’s clear cut. I have no problem the way it is, really.

  5. Oy. No Melo, no Jose, and now no Porzingis due to an upper respiratory infection.

    And Thanasis isn’t joining the roster til tomorrow, just in case we needed an extra body.

  6. Good opportunity for Gallo, D-Will and LT to shine tonight. In reality, if they don’t it could be a brutal game on the scoring front.

  7. At this point just forfeit tonight so they could be well-rested for tomorrow night’s game.

  8. No Porzingis is really disappointing. Not really much point in even watching now…but I’m a Knicks fan (read: masochist), so I’ll still watch.

  9. look at the bright side. this should give seraphin and vujacic a chance to improve on their -32 per 100 when they’re on the court together.

  10. It’s always interesting to see how an NBA team performs without huge chunks of its starting lineup. I probably won’t watch much of this though….

  11. Oy. No Melo, no Jose, and now no Porzingis due to an upper respiratory infection.

    That’s unfortunate. Well, a lot of times teams somehow manage to rally when their stars are out, so maybe that’ll be the case tonight!

  12. By the way, the Knicks did a lot of damage against OKC the other night with a Galloway/Afflalo/Thomas/Williams/Seraphim lineup, so maybe with RoLo instead of Seraphim, that lineup could work out well tonight!

  13. if we dont badly need a win it is good to watch bench players play once in a while.
    Unfortunately we really need every win and make the playoffs.
    I hope the knicks fight and surprise.
    D Will and AA. How much we hate them, but they are our chances tonight.

  14. Kyle O’Quinn and Langston Galloway are actually really good basketball players. Who knew?

  15. Still better than the teams we ran out last season.


    Sadly, this is critical game. Rolo has to come up big.

  16. D Will and AA. How much we hate them, but they are our chances tonight.

    I think AA has been getting more of the KB ire lately.

  17. While no Melo obviously hurts, the Knicks also look like they’re actually going to catch a huge break with Lowry being out tonight.

    Cronin you really are the worst :(

  18. Sasha getting 1st quarter playing time? I don’t imagine that portends good things for the Knicks future.

  19. lance thomas has the highest pump fake success to pump fake slickness ratio in nba history. but he is still better off shooting like 2/3 of the time he does it.

  20. the question is, does brian have an upper respiratory infection?

    No, but I did get this paperweight of the Garden giveaway on Tuesday!

  21. Galloway gives up a wide open 3 in favor of a contested (and blocked) step-back 18 footer from Afflalo. Yep, I think it’s about time to turn this one off.

  22. Here’s the Garden with the roof off!

    My wife hates this thing. It is kind of big and there’s really no good place for it. I currently have it on my desk with my Clyde Frazier giveaway bobblehead doll!

  23. Can you indicate on that model where you were sitting when you breathed upper respiratory germs on Porzingis?

  24. @ Cronin

    You’re like the announcers during a blowout game. Trying to steer the conversation away from the boring game at hand towards something entirely unrelated because you’ve just gotta fill the air somehow and talking about the game isn’t an option.

  25. How ’bout the Toronto ushers out there? They’re doing a great job getting everyone to their seats!

  26. Some team is going to overpay DeRozan by $40 million this season. He’s an athletic Aaron Afflalo.

  27. We’ve had some serious opportunities … Not cashing in. Grant playing too poorly and afflalo still hosting some bad fade a ways

  28. Too many bad possessions … I’m sad. Toronto isn’t bringing it and this one has been 3 makes and 2 stops from ratcheting up. And then anything can happen

  29. Couple of Knicks not playing tonight. Couple of knickerbloggers no showing as well … I think the Knicks gave A effort tonight despite their hardships. Can’t say the same for knickerblogger

  30. I sorta thing he’s thinking about tomorrow … But I don’t love that

    I don’t mind it. Phoenix is a winnable game.

  31. I woulda thought it’s winnable regardless

    Second night of a back to back with a short roster is tough, even with an iffy team like Phoenix.

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