The New York Knicks (23-24) will try to extend their five-game winning under head coach Mike Woodson when they face the struggling Toronto Raptors (15-32) at Air Canada Centre on Friday night.
Woodson has a perfect record at the helm of the Knicks after replacing Mike D'Antoni, despite some rather uneven performances.
The two teams met on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, and the Knicks cruised to a 106-87 victory. The game was supposed to be a duel between upstarts Jeremy Lin and Jerryd Bayless, but Bayless suffered a hip pointer in the second half, and is listed as day-to-day.
While the Knicks have been streaking the Raptors have lost four of their last five games. However, three of the losses were on the road, and the home game was against Eastern Conference leaders, the Chicago Bulls.
One of the problems for the Raptors has been the play of Andrea Bargnani. The former first-overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft returned from inactivity on Mar. 10, but has shot just 33.7 percent in eight games. Bargnani has only played in 21-of-47 games due mainly to a calf injury.
The Raptors still have firepower in DeMar DeRozan and James Johnson. DeRozan is averaging 16.2 points per game this season, and is coming off a 23-point effort against the Bulls.
The streaking Knicks are led by a solid starting five, and an improving bench. Lin continues to dazzle, though the hype is no longer as prevalent as it was in February. The Knicks also seem to be playing more as a unit with Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire leading the way.
The Knicks shot just 36.7 percent in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, but were carried by a fine effort from Stoudemire who converted eight-of-14 shots, and grabbed nine rebounds.
The game tips off at about 7:10 PM ET and can be seen on MSG. It can also be viewed online at http://nbaliveonline.com/streaming/
PREDICTION: The Raptors are due for a win, and the Knicks are playing above their heads lately. However, the Raptors miss Bayless, and the Knicks appear to be finally fitting together behind Lin. This game will be close, and despite some inspired play from Toronto, the Knicks should come away with a close victory.
PREDICTED SCORE: Knicks over Raptors, 89-86