Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors (7:00 PM ET): Preview and Prediction


Tonight, the Knicks travel to Toronto in their second-to-last road game of the season to take on the Raptors. Here’s what I’ll be watching for:

Season in jeopardy: With only four regular season games remaining, the Knicks — who are two full games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot — are quickly running out of time.

The Knicks would need a miracle to make the playoffs at this point, and a loss today — coupled with an Atlanta win in Brooklyn — would officially eliminate New York from contention.

Making matters even worse, the Knicks have struggled with the Hawks this season. The two teams played a home-and-home in late-December, with New York dropping both games, each by double digits.

Smith rolling: Since the turn of the month, J.R. Smith has been on fire. In three April games, he’s averaging on 48 percent shooting from the field. He’s also knocking down eight three-point attempts per game and is converting on an exceptional 48 percent of his shots behind the arc.

Another big game could be in store for Smith tonight, who has now made at least one three-pointer in each of his last 12 games.

Melo’s health: During last friday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, Carmelo Anthony aggravated a right shoulder injury that appeared to severely hinder him in both the Washington game and in the Miami game (on Sunday). In the two losses, he combined to make just nine of his 31 field goal tries and scored just 23 points total.

Fortunately for ‘Melo and his shoulder, the Knicks haven’t played since Sunday, which gave the seven-time All-Star four full days to rest. Of course, that extra rest could bode well for New York today, especially if Anthony is back to 100 percent.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors 107, New York Knicks 97

The Knicks’ season isn’t officially over, but let’s be clear: they aren’t making the playoffs and they know they aren’t making the playoffs. The Raptors, meanwhile, are still fighting for postseason positioning. Not only is Toronto the better team, but it will also want this one more than New York.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony J.R. Smith New York Knicks