Healthy Toronto Raptors Knock Off Knicks, Creep Within Game of .500%
The Toronto Raptors are finally healthy and may actually be quite good.
It’s either that or they are just the kryptonite of the New York Knicks who have now dropped all three meetings to the Raptors this season.
Sticking to the positives, with the return of rookie Scottie Barnes, the Raptors returned to full health to start the new year. For the first time in what felt like forever, the Raptors threw out their entire core in the starting lineup as Fred VanVleet led the way with 35 points, leading the Raptors to a 120-105 victory. Pascal Siakam had another big game, putting up 20 points and 14 rebounds, finishing three assists shy of a triple-double.
“I think we felt good about our group all year, to be honest with you,” said VanVleet. “I just like our spirit and our chemistry and kind of the enthusiasm that we have for the game. It’s going to take time to get it to be where we need it to be, but you would hope if we keep climbing by April and May we’ll be at our best, and that’s kind of the goal. To start the year off with everybody back, and hopefully we can run off a couple here playing good basketball, this is kinda where you want to be. We’ve just gotta continue to get better individually and collectively and I think that we’ll be a tough team to beat if we can keep growing towards the end of the year.”
With the win, the Raptors crept within one game of .500% but have quite the difficult week coming up, with games against the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns all on the docket. If there was every a time to test a healthy Raptors young core, this would be it.
“Just all in all you feel like you have a shot when everyone’s available. I feel good about our top six, seven, or eight and the rest of those guys we got to bring them along and get them up to speed,” said VanVleet. “But even the end of the rotation has been put to the fire this year so they are better for it.
“All of those guys are going to have their opportunity, but I think our core is pretty good and we sprinkle the rest of those guys in and find the rhythm and rotations as we continue to play more minutes together, you just feel good about having a fair shot about it.”
But before things get tough, the Raptors will look to take care of business when they take on the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.