New York, New York might as well be the theme music as the Toronto Raptors prepare to face the New York Knicks in two successive games as the exhibition season gives way to the regular one.
The teams will face off in preseason play in Montreal on Friday, then again in Toronto for Wednesday's season opener.
Raptors head coach Jay Triano said the team won't be holding anything back on Friday, when they'll play in front of a sold-out crowd at the Bell Centre as part of the Raptors' continuing effort to brand themselves as Canada's team.
"We're going to try to get better, we need the game to do that," Triano said. "It's not like we can hide things going into this game. They'll know everything that we have."
With the preseason winding down, Triano said he's satisfied with how the team has performed offensively. The Raptors' old Achilles heel - defence - is still a work in progress, however. By putting pressure on the ball around the three-point line, the Raptors have succeeded in decreasing the number of three-pointers, he said. However, Triano said his players must do a better job of helping out when an opposing player blows past the first line of defence.
"We just have to get better with our help-side rotations," Triano said. "It's what we work on every day. We have to be able to do that and contain individually better, and have guys ready to assist if we don't."
Players agreed that defence was the order of the day.
"If you look at the stats, we're probably in the top five, top 10 offensively," forward Reggie Evans said. "Our main problem is defence. It's just the little things that we've got to overcome. A lot of players are out of position and stuff like that."