The Toronto Raptors aren't quite as scary.
Minnesota Timberwolves (10-36) vs. Toronto Raptors (13-34) at Target Center
Tonight, the Timberwolves welcome the Toronto Raptors to the Target Center. Toronto has lost 10 straight games - including six straight on the road - and have only averaged 91.3 points over that time. The Wolves have not lost this season (6-0) when giving up fewer than 100 points at home.
Minnesota has lost 12-straight games to the Raptors. Of course, they have yet to play the Chris Bosh-less Raptors this season. Minnesota is favored by 5 points, and after Love recorded his 32nd straight double-double last night, it looks like the Wolves will have a nice and easy win on Saturday night.
Let's take a look at the matchups:
Frequent Canis Hoopus poster and Wolves fan, Andrea Bargnani.
Darko Milicic vs. Andrea Bargnani
Andrea Bargnani, out of Italy, is the classic European big man. He's got a nice shot from outside but he cannot do much of anything else. He's a poor rebounder and is not a good playmaker. He does not turn the ball over often, but given that he looks to pass so rarely, that isn't a surprise. His defense is laughably awful, especially his help defense (or more aptly in his case, helpless defense).
Given that his biggest asset in this game is drawing Darko away from the paint, it might make more sense for Rambis to switch Kevin Love onto Bargnani.
If they do leave Darko on Andrea, however, it should still work out fine. After all, Serbia always trumps Italy. Just look at what happened in World War II.
Winner: Darko Milicic
Kevin Love vs. Amir Johnson
You might say that Amir Johnson was something of a steal. After all, he was drafted 56th overall and its impressive when anyone drafted that late can even hold down a roster spot for more than a couple of seasons. You have to question, however, the wisdom of giving $5 million a season to a guy with no post game and with a bad habit of picking up quick fouls.
The Wolves need to give it to Kevin Love every possession in the post against Amir. Love can get his shot off and he'll draw enough contact to get Amir out of the game quickly.
Amir's backup is Ed Davis, the power forward from North Carolina. Davis - the 13th pick overall - has done very little of note so far this season (6 points and 6 rebounds a game in 21 minutes).
Love should get another 20/20 game tonight.
Winner: Kevin Love
Don't let them take it away from you, Julian.
Wright was part of the Jerryd Bayless trade with New Orleans earlier this season. After a promising rookie season, Wright has regressed every season and is only averaging 4 points and 2.6 rebounds a game this season. He is very turnover prone, and given his lack of an outside shot, his offensive game is very unreliable. He's not a terrible defender, but against volume scorers like Michael Beasley, he doesn't have great size to disrupt Be Easy's game.
Beasley has a fire that is usually stoked after games like last night's in Utah. I wouldn't be surprised if he came out firing from the opening tip and put up a 30-point game.
Winner: Michael Beasley
Corey Brewer vs. Demar DeRozan
The 9th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft - and someone mentioned around these parts as a player preferable to Jonny Flynn - DeRozan has incredible athleticism, but is struggling to do much with it so far in his career. He doesn't have a 3-point shot and sees the floor pretty poorly. He can rebound the ball well, draw contact and finish the ball in transition. In the half court set, however, he is not particularly dangerous as an offensive weapon.
He's also the type of player that Corey Brewer excels at defending. He doesn't have to worry about the long ball, and he can keep checking him closely off of screens.
On the other end, DeRozan is not a great defender. He makes a lot of mistakes and can be foul prone. Wesley Johnson should be able to get his shot off easily with DeRozan on him and hopefully we see some of the aggressiveness that he has displayed over the past few games.
Winner: Corey Brewer
My favorite moment of Jose Calderon's career.
Luke Ridnour vs. Jose Calderon
Jose Calderon was once thought of as a great up-and-coming point guard who could potentially be an All-Star one day down the road. Unfortunately, he no longer seems to be that type of player and has descended into a mediocre-at-best option at the point for the Raptors. He is a deadly accurate shooter and is great at the line. He also turns the ball over very rarely.
Unfortunately, on the other end, he may be one of the worst defensive point guards in the league. Last season, opposing point guards had a 22.6 PER against him. It might be tempting for Luke Ridnour to try and beat Calderon off the dribble on every play. Ridnour has to avoid the temptation and continue to run the offense. He also has to stick to Calderon like glue on the other end to prevent him from lighting up from outside.
Winner: Luke RIdnour