MONTREAL - Though the Raptors beat the New York Knicks 108-103 in a tuneup for Wednesday’s season opener, the team knows the coming match will be a lot tougher.
“We’re going to see a different team for sure,” said point guard Jose Calderon, after his strong performance off the bench Friday night. “They’re not going to do the same things on Wednesday.”
Prized Knicks off-season acquisition Amare Stoudemire is being touted by his head coach Mike D’Antoni as a possible MVP candidate. Though Stoudemire’s defence leaves a ton to be desired, it certainly appears he will post some outstanding offensive numbers.
Stoudemire notched 24 points — most of them on easy buckets — in 26 minutes against the Raptors.
Raptors starting big men Andrea Bargnani and Reggie Evans know containing Stoudemire Wednesday will be a key and felt it was beneficial to get a good look at him beforehand in Montreal.
“We kind of got a little rough draft of what they’ll bring to the table. I learned a lot of what they’re trying to do,” Evans said.
“I can learn from all of the mistakes that I made from an individual standpoint and from a team perspective.”
Bargnani anticipates a tough matchup if he spends time trying to guard Stoudemire.
“Everybody knows Amare is a great player, it’s going to be tough, going to have to be teammwork (that slows him down),” Bargnani said,
“He’s a great player, no doubt.”
Evans knows Stoudemire will get his points, but wants to make sure the Raptors make it difficult for him.
“That’s the way their system is set up. With a lot of scoring but not that much defence,” he said of the Knicks.
“We’ll try to do a good job taking away his transition, take away the groove. Try to get his stuff in the half-court, make him earn it."
The Knicks will likely also have starting small forward Danilo Gallinari — the team’s second-best offensive player — back in its lineup in Toronto.
Raptors coach Jay Triano thought his club played one of its better games of the pre-season Friday and hopes it carries through into the regular campaign.
“We ended on a little bit of a positive, “Triano said.
“I thought we did some good things, took some charges, which we haven’t been doing — committing at the defensive end.
“Everybody got to play, which is a bonus, (now) everyone is ready to play.”
Triano said he is still deciding about his lineup, since some players coming off the bench have played better than some starters. Jarrett Jack was inserted into the starting lineup after an excellent pre-season coming off the bench.
Jack believes the Raptors still have some work to do this week.
“We still gave up easy rotations (leading to open shots), we just have to limit the breakdowns, try to keep (them to) a minimum," he said.