The Knicks will look to make it four wins in a row in a home matchup against the Raptors.

The New York Knicks (25-19) host the Toronto Raptors (19-24) at 3:00 PM EST. The Knicks are riding a three-game winning streak heading into the midday game, hot off a solid showing against the Detroit Pistons yesterday. With a re-energized Julius Randle, the Knicks are looking menacing in the East as they currently sit sixth in the conference. Meanwhile, the Raptors are falling flat due to some issues that they cannot shake.

But the Raptors always give the Knicks a good fight with their defensive versatility, and Pascal Siakam has been on a tear of his own. Siakam and Randle squaring off in the Garden will be a fun matchup. This game could end up being a real barn-burner if Fred VanVleet can get out of his shooting funk to match Jalen Brunson’s offensive output. that could be a big ask, though, as VanVleet has struggled mightily all year and no Raptor has stepped into his role as a true secondary scorer.

The Raptors are going through a season from hell. What was expected to be a promising year after a great 2022 campaign has ended up leaving GM Masai Ujiri with more questions than answers. Siakam has been as good as ever, including in his 52-point outing against the Knicks, while former All-Star Fred Vanvleet has looked out-matched by most of his opponents. With his worst three-point shooting year in the NBA, VanVleet’s offensive punch has weakened as teams welcome him to shoot. The 6-foot-1 guard has been disinterested in getting into the paint, so relying on tough mid-range/floater shots on a night-to-night basis is why his shooting clip is down from the norm.

VanVleet can always get hot for a stretch and help the Raptors’ offense gel. Without VanVleet’s playmaking, a lot of the facilitating burden falls to Siakam. Sophomore Scottie Barns hasn’t looked as promising as he did last year, with no real new element to his game since last year, the word is out on Barnes to let him shoot as his jumper is still coming along. Barnes also hasn’t looked as good with the ball in his hands as last year.

Speaking of All-Stars, the Knicks are looking to continue their impressive first-half resume and possibly put two ‘Bockers in the All-Star game in Utah. Brunson is all but a shoo-in to go, but Randle has been forcing All-Star decision-makers to consider him with his recent heroic stretch. Coming off a monster 42 points and fifteen rebounds in New York’s previous game, Randle is in rhythm and a small-ball raptors lineup could be exactly what he needs to keep feasting.

The Knicks have been playing like they have the firepower to beat anyone. This game will come down to ball control for New York. The Knicks are currently top five in turnovers per game, and that is exactly what the Raptors want. Toronto has the most steals per game so getting out in transition is great for a team that struggles in the half-court as much as the Raptors.

The Knicks should be able to win this game if they put the Raptors away early. Keeping possessions alive and no costly turnovers will save New York from letting Toronto hang around and get easy buckets. With the Knicks’ newfound defensive identity, it should be hard enough for Toronto to get their offensive sets going. Look for a lot of highlights from Randle and Siakam as they match up with each other and will be putting more effort into scoring than defending.

Don’t forget to get your All-Star votes in!

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