Wolves at Raptors
The big story tonight is Andrew Wiggins' first game as a professional in his home city of Toronto. Wiggins is a huge deal in Canadian basketball circles of course, and will no doubt be looking to impress in front of the home folks. He has clearly been struggling and has looked tired recently, so hopefully this will provide a spark as the end of the season approaches.
The Raptors currently sit third in the Eastern Conference at 40-27, but have really slowed down since the All-Star break, losing 10 of their 14 since. They are, however, coming off a solid win in Indiana against the Pacers on Monday night.
They remain one of the top offensive teams in the league, however. They are top ten in both FTs a game and three pointers a game despite being below average in pace. Most of their offense comes from the perimeter, as DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are their two highest scorers, with DeRozan excelling in getting to the free throw line while Lowry (along with Terrence Ross) leads the team from behind the arc. Lowry also creates a ton of offense on pick and roll situations, and the Raps are quite difficult to stop. Lou Williams is another big source of perimeter scoring off the bench, so the Wolves guards will have their hands full trying to slow the Raptors down.
Meanwhile, the Wolves are likely to once again be without several of their main cogs. It's possible that Ricky Rubio will be back in the lineup today, but unlikely that Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Garnett, or Gary Neal will play, leaving them once again short all over the place, but especially in the front court. Keeping the Raps off the boards will once again be a huge task for the undermanned Wolves.
Also making something of a return to Toronto is former Raps head coach Sam Mitchell. Mitchell will be the acting head coach tonight for the Wolves as Flip Saunders is in Cleveland with his family and not with the team tonight.
LATE UPDATE: Rubio will go. Everyone else who has been out is still out, and JUSTIN HAMILTON is out as well due to illness. Means the available bench players are LaVine, Brown, and Budinger. No extra bigs at all. Lots of small ball tonight.
Here's a link to our friends at Raptors HQ.
No no and no.
Enjoy. Chat. Go.