Studs No Duds: Knicks play championship-level basketball against the Raptors

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) dribbles the ball against the Toronto Raptors in the first half at Scotiabank Arena
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Another history-making affair was on the cards as the New York Knicks visited the Toronto Raptors. It was nothing short of a masterclass, as six Knicks players scored in double figures.

From an impact player returning to New York shooting 50% from downtown, nothing could go wrong for the Knicks on this occasion, as they have been playing championship-level basketball. Miles McBride led all scoring with 29 points the Knicks decimated Toronto by an astonishing 44 points, winning with a final score of 145–101. 

Studs: The Return of Mitchell Robinson

After missing 50 games due to a left ankle injury, Mitchell Robinson returned to the Knicks lineup on Wednesday night. While recording eight points and two blocks in 12 minutes, Robinson’s motor deserves a tremendous level of respect. He looked like he could’ve played 20 more minutes, but a generous return for Mitchell was perfect with such a stellar rotation at the center position.

As Robinson returns to form, the Knicks have a luxury big man in their rotation off the bench. Before the injury, Robinson was a legit Defensive Player of the Year candidate and looks focused and in great shape in his return to game action.

Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic spoke on the lack of matchups to contain Robinson stating, “ When Mitchell Robinson checked in, he looked like like a giant out there.” 

Returning near the season’s end and getting reps before the most crucial part of the season, Robinson will be a force in the NBA playoffs. 

Studs: Another sharp performance from Miles McBride 

Miles McBride must’ve won the team King of the Mountain or the three-point contest in practice due to the excess playing time he has received. Incredible for his development and situational exposure, McBride was on fire against the Toronto Raptors while registering 39+ minutes played in his fifth straight game.

All of the chambers were loaded as in the first quarter alone, McBride had six threes made compared to only five from the entire Raptors team. McBride finished with 29 points, seven assists, and nine three-pointers made. Over his last five games, McBride is averaging 21 points on 54% from the field with 23 made threes.

What’s most remarkable about this stretch from McBride is his consistency on defense, efficiency, and marksmanship being only 23 years old and a second-round pick. His commitment to excellence and incredible decisiveness have made McBride not only a Coach Thibs favorite but a fan favorite.

Studs: Stellar bench performances 

The Knicks have been can’t miss in March. Sitting great with a 9-3 record this month, New York has the best defensive rating in the entire association while only having their best defender for three of these games. The winning culture and selflessness that have been evident throughout the rotation reached near apex against the Toronto Raptors. With six players in double figures, the Knicks shot 50% from the three-point line with Herculean showings from Precious Achiuwa, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Isaiah Hartenstein. 

The former Toronto Raptor Precious Achiuwa had his best game in over two weeks, coinciding with the return of Mitchell Robinson. The Knick’s center rotation is arguably the best in the league, as Achiuwa showed his bounce against Toronto, finishing with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

May the apology be as loud as the disrespect for Bojan Bogdanovic. The Knicks fanbase has been short with both Burks and Bojan upon their arrival to the Knicks. It has been proven the moment is never too bright for either player, and Bojan showed it again against the Toronto Raptors. In 16 minutes, Bogdanovic scored 18 points with four threes made from downtown. Saving his best work for closing time, albeit a 34-point lead, Bojan scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.

To round off the dominant center rotation, Isaiah Hartenstein’s 15 points and four rebounds raise many questions about the rotation going forward for the Knicks. In a definite win-win scenario, starting Robinson or Hartenstein will benefit New York tremendously as both men bring a new level of intensity that the other can sustain when subbed in.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Raptors

The championship level of play from the New York Knicks is cultivating at the perfect time. With only ten games remaining, the heightened execution on both sides of the ball from New York warrants a warning to any team looking to come out of the East.

The Villanova trio had something to say against Toronto, combining for a calm 49 points. If not from them, the Knicks have arguably the best defender in the league, OG Anunoby on the way, Julius Randle getting prepared for a return, and a tremendous supporting cast that’s willing to run through a wall for each other.

Donte DiVincenzo now sits only three made three-pointers away from the Knicks record for most threes made in a season. The Knicks are now the third seed in the Eastern Conference and only two games back from the second seed with ten games left to play.

This is all a perfect storm for the Knicks with half of the rest of their games against teams below .500. Their next matchup is Friday night as New York looks to continue the momentum versus the San Antonio Spurs. 

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