The Raptors have their own Frank Sinatra song about New York, New York.
If they can't make it there, they aren't going anywhere as far as the NBA playoffs are concerned.
The Raptors begin a home-and-home with the Knicks tonight in the Big Apple, 21/2 games behind New York and their roster altered slightly by last night's deadline deal with the Boston Celtics for backup centre Patrick O'Bryant.
But the bulk of the pressure in the final 26 games will be on the shoulders of Chris Bosh, Shawn Marion, Jose Calderon, and a mish-mash of players who have been unable to hold down starting jobs all season in Toronto and elsewhere.
If the Raps sweep the two games, the public may have to take them seriously about a late charge to jump five teams, including the Knicks, for the eighth and final playoff spot. Drop both and they are down to 24 games and attention will begin turning to the draft lottery.
"We know the importance of the games, back-to-back against a team ahead of us," coach Jay Triano said yesterday at the ACC. "If we split, we don't gain any ground."
"We definitely have to go in there and get the win and then come back in here (Sunday afternoon) and protect home court," forward Joey Graham added.
The Raptors were still smarting yesterday from a 17-point home loss to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, but were just a point down after a quarter and within 10 at one stage of the fourth before James snapped to life and the home side melted.
"We started off like we wanted to," Graham said of neutralizing James, holding him to four points and taking advantage of newcomer Marion's adrenalin up front.
"If we play both games in New York they way we started (Wednesday) we should do well."
Leading scorer Bosh will be back after missing five games with a sprained right knee, during which the team had a record of 2-3.
"This is the group we have to work with," Bosh said, prior to the addition of O'Bryant, for depth purposes. "I look forward to working with what we have. We have to accept our roles and accept the fact we have some mountains to climb."
The Knicks, under new coach Mike D'Antoni, play an unconventional, offensive style of game.
"We have to get back on defence," Bosh warned. "We have to show them bodies, we have to contest their threes, because they shoot a lot of them. We can't get discouraged if they make some. They can shoot all the threes they want, we just have to make sure we don't give them the lay-ups and stuff like that."