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Game Preview #59: Raptors at Wolves

We get a 7 seed showdown back at the rockin’ Target Center tonight. tonight.

Charlotte Hornets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

We’ve nearly made it to the All-Star break! The Wolves end their 2-game home stand against the Tampa Bay Toronto Raptors. While one team is coming in looking to right the ship after a 30-point blowout loss, the other is fresh off an electric overtime victory. The vibes will probably be immaculate at Target Center... again.


Game Info

Who: Toronto Raptors (31-25; 7th) at Minnesota Timberwolves (31-27; 7th)
When: 7:00 pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


Injury Report


What To Watch For

  • Not only are both of these teams identical in their current standing within their respective conferences, but they are also nearly identical in their offensive and defensive ratings for the season. The Raptors are 10th in OFFRTG at 111.7 compared to the Wolves at 9th with 111.8. As for DEFRTG, both teams are actually tied at 14th with exactly 110.1. In the most basic way possible, this is as even as a matchup as you’ll see. That said, there’s still a number of differences between the two clubs, such as how Toronto is dead last in AST% (30th) and near the bottom in pace (26th). The one I’m most focused on though is TS% and eFG%, which the Wolves are 14th and 17th respectively, compared to the Raps at 25th and 27th. If yesterday’s game told us anything, it’s that this Minnesota team is capable of winning even when their shot isn’t falling.
  • Both teams may be missing one of their top offensive weapons tonight. At the time of writing this preview, both all-stars all-star Fred VanVleet and Anthony Edwards are questionable with injuries. Both guards have tried to power through various ailments in the past few weeks and I am sure both fan bases would like to see them rest as they jockey for playoff/play-in positioning. While the Wolves were victorious without Edwards in the 2nd half & overtime last night, the Raptors floundered against the play-in hopeful Pelicans (90-120) despite VanVleet playing most of the game. How will both teams continue to operate if either star is out? (UPDATE: VANVLEET IS OUT)
  • There have been a number of memorable Raptors-Wolves matchups in recent member. Last season, we had Ant’s dunk of the decade on Yuta Watanabe. Just 5 days prior to that, we had the Valentine’s Day matchup in which Pascal Siakam barely missed a game-tying layup at the end of regulation. Siakam and the Raptors got their revenge already, but I’m sure that missed layup is still fresh on his mind. With VanVleet is out, everything will go through Spicy P. During Toronto’s most recent 8-game winning streak, he averaged 25.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.6 stocks per game on .554/.423/.766 splits. He’s also apparently their starting point guard tonight.

Predictions

  • The official League Leader in Forced Turnovers will watch Spicy P notch a triple-double. That’s right. 10+ points, rebounds, and turnovers. Thanks, Jarred Vanderbilt!
  • OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, and even Chris Boucher are all fun, but these long-limbed terrorizers will look more like long-limbed king crab legs for KAT to feast on tonight. Without any bruisers to push him around in the paint, I’m expecting Towns to post a real triple-double tonight: 20-15-10.
  • I think it’s about time for a classic Jaylen Nowell scoring explosion. Nick Nurse usually runs a tight rotation with his starters playing close to 35 minutes a night, so with a shortened rotation, I think the water is just right for Mr. Big Tymah to go off for 20+ points.
  • The New Wolves™ use the crowd to fuel them to another victory - 3 straight! Instead of using the cheat code of missing more than 40 three pointers for an automatic win this time, the law of averages bounce back in Minnesota’s favor. Give me the over on 19.5 made threes. Timberwolves 116, Raptors 104.