The New York Knicks are playing so well, they don’t mind playing a back-to-back set.
The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, really could use some time off.
A pair of teams going in opposite directions are set to face off Wednesday night when the surging Knicks will host the skidding Raptors in a battle of Eastern Conference rivals.
The Knicks extended their winning streak to eight games on Tuesday when they never trailed in a 132-94 rout of the visiting Golden State Warriors.
The Raptors saw their losing streak reach six games on Monday when they fell to the host Philadelphia 76ers 104-101 in overtime.
Both streaks are the longest active runs in the NBA.
The winning streak is the longest for the Knicks since a nine-game run from April 9-24, 2021. New York has done a little bit of everything during its current surge, from routing opponents and winning in overtime to beating title contenders and vanquishing teams bound for the lottery.
The defending champion Warriors, who played their third straight game without superstar Stephen Curry (left shoulder), might have qualified for both of the last two categories. But the Knicks left little doubt regarding their current superiority. Six players scored in double figures for New York, which maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second half and outscored Golden State 32-13 in the fourth quarter.
The task of playing their first set of back-to-back games since Dec. 3-4 — a 92-81 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second game was the first win of the Knicks’ streak — isn’t likely to faze New York, which has thrived on both ends of the court over the past two-plus weeks.
The Knicks have scored at least 109 points in each of their past seven games after doing so just 13 times in the first 24 games. They also have surrendered fewer than 100 points five times during the winning streak after giving up at least 100 points in each of their opening 23 games.
“The vibes are always better when you win, you know what I mean?” Knicks guard RJ Barrett said Tuesday night. “So, we’re winning. We’re playing together. We’re having fun.”
The Raptors haven’t had much fun in their losing streak. It’s their longest since a seven-game skid to end the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, when Toronto played its home games in Tampa due to Canada’s border restrictions.
The losing streak is the longest for the Raptors in a normal season since they endured a pair of six-game skids during the 2012-13 campaign.
That was the season before Toronto began a stretch of seven straight playoff appearances, a run that included the franchise’s lone NBA championship in 2018-19.
During the current drought, the Raptors have lost four games by four points or fewer. That includes a 119-116 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday in which Kyrie Irving hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
“I like our effort, but at the same time, it’s not enough,” said Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who scored 38 points and pulled down 15 rebounds Monday night. “We have to get out of whatever we’re in right now and find a way.
“There’s games we felt we played well enough to win and we didn’t.”
–Field Level Media