Overlooked component of Knicks-Raptors trade stands out in win

The Knicks spoiled RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley's homecoming.

Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Toronto Raptors guard RJ Barrett (9) controls the ball with
Jan 20, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Toronto Raptors guard RJ Barrett (9) controls the ball with / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Knicks won the first game against the Raptors since the OG Anunoby trade, 126-100. Julius Randle posted his first triple-double of the season. Jalen Brunson dropped 38 points, further proving he should be an All-Star. Anunoby finished with a plus/minus of +20, second highest on the team behind Brunson.

RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley received standing ovations when their names were announced in the starting lineup. At the first timeout, a tribute video was played. It was Barrett and Quickley's 11th game with the Raptors, but seeing them at the Garden as visitors was still a bit strange.

All in all, it was an emotional, exciting night, particularly for Precious Achiuwa. He and Malachi Flynn were sent to New York with Anunoby, but understandably, the wing has garnered most of the attention. Achiuwa made his presence known on Saturday, though. He had his best game as a Knick, scoring 18 points (9-of-10 from the field) and 11 rebounds.

Precious Achiuwa has his best game as a Knick against former squad

Isaiah Hartenstein played 23 minutes before it was announced he'd be out for the remainder of the game with a sprained ankle. That opened up the door for Achiuwa (who moved to New York in middle school) to play 25 minutes, the most he's been on the floor since he was traded.

Achiuwa has a knack for doing well against his former teams. He was traded by the Heat in 2021 and has averaged 9.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game against Miami. He could have another revenge game as soon as next week.

He's had his up-and-down moments thus far in New York, so hopefully, his performance against Toronto was a glimpse into what's to come. Tom Thibodeau said the team would learn more about Hartenstein's ankle on Sunday. If he has to miss some time, it'll likely be Achiuwa who slides into the starting lineup, as Thibodeau has barely played Jericho Sims.

Achiuwa will be a restricted free agent over the summer. Depending on how the rest of the season shakes out and what happens with Hartenstein's restricted free agency, Achiuwa could sign a contract with the Knicks. Consistency is key.

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