After a day of rest, the Toronto Raptors will step back on to the hardwood tonight as the young and hungry Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Air Canada Centre. The last time these two teams met was the last game before the All Star break, which didn’t go so well for the Raps.
After not making any deals at the deadline, the roster right now is the one that will be put to test for the second half of the season and for the playoffs. However, the task of facing an ambitious Minnesota squad should not be overlooked. Let’s talk about how the boys from the Six can achieve a W tonight.
Establish Defense Early
This T-Wolves team may be inexperienced but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to play. Right now, Minnesota is shooting an impressive 45.7% from the field which is good enough for 10th in the league. If the Raps can control the pace of the game from the start, Wiggins and Co. won’t be making field goals as easily.
Smart Fouls Only
Minnesota gets to the line 27.3 times a game, second best in the league. If that’s not reason enough not to foul, they convert almost 80% of their attempts from the charity stripe. Toronto needs to ensure they aren’t making too much contact or it’ll cost them.
Crash the Boards
Minnesota pulls down 42 boards a game, 5th worst of all teams. We need to take advantage of this and make sure everybody is aggressive on the boards. If we can expose this flaw in their game, it’ll make the game a lot more controllable.
X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas
Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and James Johnson will match up with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Andrew Wiggins, the team’s leading scorer. However, JV will have his hands full with Karl-Anthony Towns. The rookie is averaging a double-double in the form of 17.3 points, 10.2 boards and 1.6 helpers. Pretty remarkable for any player, let alone a rookie. JV needs to step his game up tonight and compete with KAT if the Raptors want the W.