Wolves at Raptors
6:30 pm CST
The Timberwolves come into tonight's game following a win over the Celtics that ended up much closer than it should have been, but was still a quality win over a good Eastern Conference opponent. Tonight they will be looking to put together two such games in a row when they visit the Raptors in Toronto.
These teams played just before the All-Star break in Minneapolis, and it was one of the Wolves' better performances of the year, as Karl-Anthony Towns went for 35 points, Ricky Rubio dominated with a 19-8-8 line, and the Wolves got a big win over a very hot Raptors team.
Tonight they will be looking to sweep the Raps on the season, and it also is a homecoming for Andrew Wiggins, who no doubt will be motivated to play well before the hometown crowd.
The Raps will be looking for payback after losing the last meeting, and have won two in a row over the Grizzlies and the Knicks. They are led by the tremendous back court of Kyle Lowry, who Ricky Rubio surprisingly handled, and DeMar DeRozan, who had a monster game in the first match up. Since that game, the Raps have inserted James Johnson into the starting lineup at small forward in place of Norman Powell, and how the Wolves choose to defend the wing will be interesting. On the assumption that Zach LaVine remains in the starting lineup, he will either have to guard DeRozan, who Wiggins could not handle last time, or the much bigger Johnson, who is essentially a combo forward.
Towns thoroughly dominated Jonas Valanciunas to the tune of 35 points on 11-19 shooting, but had much less luck against the Raps defensive minded back up, Bismack Biyombo. Dwayne Casey might have a tough decision about how to allocate the minutes up front if Towns gets off to another good start. Giving up offense for defense might be his only choice after how Towns dominated them last time.
Finally, I very much doubt the Wolves will go to the line 53 times as they did in the first meeting, which was a huge difference in the ball game. Towns and Wiggins both had 13 attempts from the line, but on the road probably won't get quite as many calls as they did at home. They will have to shoot it better from long range to make up for that (4-14 in the first match up), something they have done over the last couple of games as Zach LaVine finds his catch and shoot game.
Our blogging buddies are over at Raptors HQ. Be excellent.