TORONTO -- Must win? Absolutely. A few Knicks players were considering that before tonight's opener here against the Raptors. With the next four games against tough teams -- at Boston, vs Portland, vs Orlando and at Chicago -- the Knicks can ill-afford to have a bad game against what should be viewed as a beatable opponent.
The Raps may be without Chris Bosh, but they're not exactly walk-overs. Andrea Bargnani will be featured more than ever and Linas Kleiza is an underrated scorer and a tough player. Jarrett Jack is also a noted Knick-killer. Plenty to worry about.
Keys to the game:
1. Rebound - Reggie Evans outrebounded the entire Knicks starting five in last week's preseason game in Montreal. Have to get on the boards.
2. Defense - This is a team that will rely a great deal on the perimeter, so that means they will try to spread you out, which can leave the middle soft. Important to stay out on shooters but don't get beat on overplays. Also, what we saw in the preseason is when this team gets after it defensively, it sparks the transition game, which generates the offense.
3. Amar'e - Easily the best player on either roster. Must dominate in his Knick debut. But I'll add a sidenote here and say that Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton must also step up. Amar'e can score a lot, but he can't win games by himself.
Enjoy the game.