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Game Preview #77: Wolves at Raptors

Minnesota’s road trip continues, this time with a quick stop north of the border.

Toronto Raptors v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

Game Info

Who: Minnesota Timberwolves (43-33) at Toronto Raptors (43-32)
When: 6:30pm CST
TV: Bally Sports North
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio
Line: Wolves +3 (courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook)

What To Watch For

Let’s keep this relatively short and sweet — tonight is hands down the most important game of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Although they’ve already secured at least a spot in the play-in tournament (and very likely home court advantage through it as well), they will have to string together as many wins as possible over these final six games if they want to have any chance whatsoever at catching Denver, Dallas, or possibly even Utah.

The Wolves do have a major game coming up on Friday against the Nuggets in Denver, but that game won’t carry nearly as much importance if Minnesota can’t first secure the “Kings of the North” crown tonight against the Raptors in Toronto. The Wolves are currently 2.0 games back of both Denver and Utah, but in order to make up enough ground on either one of them, they will likely need to finish the season winning something like five (or more likely all six) of their remaining games.

Simply put, it’s put up or shut up time for Minnesota as they try to climb completely out of the play-in tournament all together. To do so, they need to take care of business, and that starts tonight.

As for the Raptors, they are also in a murky playoff race themselves, currently sitting at 43-32, which is good enough for 6th in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is just 0.5 games behind the 5th place Bulls, and 1.0 game up on the 7th place Cleveland Cavaliers. Similar to Minnesota, the Raptors will be looking to win as many games as possible over the final week or so of the regular season in order to prevent themselves from having to participate in the dreaded play-in tournament.

I know I’ve said this multiple times over the last few weeks, but tonight is about as close as you can get to playoff basketball in March. Both the Wolves and Raptors need to win to keep pace in their respective conference, and that alone should make for some riveting and exciting basketball later tonight.

Injury Reports

Pretty straight forward injury report for the Timberwolves — both Malik Beasley and Jaden McDaniels are traveling with the team during this road trip, but neither is available tonight against Toronto. Chris Finch did say today at shootaround that Jaden’s rehab was coming along well and that he would be re-evaluated next week, so that at least suggests his original timeframe hasn’t changed since suffering the injury in San Antonio.

As for the Raptors, it appears as if they will be without Malachi Flynn (finger) and possibly Khem Birch tonight. Outside of that, Nick Nurse’s squad is relatively healthy and will be looking to stop the Timberwolves from chasing down any of the top six teams in the Western Conference.

Prediction time — as mentioned at the top, tonight is essentially the biggest “must-win” game of the year. All hope isn’t lost if the Wolves lose, but any chance at catching Denver or Dallas or Utah likely is unless Minnesota can go full Finding Nemo mode and just keep swimming winning just keep swimming winning.

Give me Minnesota, give me the points, and most importantly give me the win. Wolves 124, Raptors 115.

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