The New York Knicks (21-24) will try to extend their three-game winning under head coach Mike Woodson when they host the struggling Toronto Raptors (15-30) at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Woodson has a perfect record in his three games at the helm of the Knicks after replacing Mike D'Antoni, and it's been partly due to more of a team effort, as well as a bench that has given inspired performances.
But most eyes at the Garden will be on the starting point guards, when the New York battles Toronto.
Jeremy Lin and Jerryd Bayless are both 23-year-old playmakers who have stepped up late in the season. Lin's surge has certainly received more attention, but Bayless has proven he can be an effective scorer when given ample minutes.
Bayless is coming off two excellent performances. The former University of Arizona star scored 28 points against the Grizzlies and 29 points against the Bobcats on the road. Bayless has also recorded six-straight games of scoring in double digits, and is shooting 54 percent in his last five games.
Lin failed to make much of an impression in a Knicks win over the Blazers on Mar. 14, but continues to be a major scoring threat. He has scored in double digits in nine of his last 10 games, and is coming off a 19-point effort against the Pacers, when he grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out six assists.
Carmelo Anthony remains the Knicks top scoring weapon, but the high-profile forward is only shooting 40 percent in March. The Raptors have a tenacious defender in Gary Forbes, who figures to receive more playing time with Anthony on the court.
The last time the two teams met at Madison Square Garden was Jan. 2, with the Raptors outlasting the Knicks, 90-85. That game was weeks before Lin's arrival. With Woodson in charge, Toronto can expect a much different Knicks' squad.
The game tips off at about 7:40 PM ET and can be seen on MSG. It can also be viewed online at http://nbaliveonline.com/streaming/
PREDICTION: The Raptors go into the game with two days rest, and the confidence in knowing that they beat the Knicks on their home court this season. Expect Bayless to continue his hot shooting, and for Lin to put up a solid effort, as well, in what should be an entertaining point-guard duel. In the end, the Knicks will utilize their size advantage and hold off the Raptors, in a rather competitive game.
PREDICTED SCORE: Knicks over Raptors, 94-90