By: Dan Slaubaugh
Happy Wednesday, Wolves fans. You're halfway though the week, so just chug a few more cups of coffee and finish strong.
Hey, look! A new opponent! Finally!
Yes, tonight the Wolves (16-37) host a team they haven't faced this year in the Toronto Raptors, who are currently sitting at the 2 spot (2 games back of Cleveland) in the Eastern Conference. Toronto has won 14 out of their past 15 games and are riding high into the all-star break. Minnesota has won 2 of 3, but turned in a clunker Monday night against New Orleans just fresh off a couple of quality wins against the Clippers and Bulls.
The Wolves don't play another game till next Friday, so you better tune in tonight.
What: Wolves - Raptors
Where: Target Center. Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: 7:00pm CST
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO Radio
What to watch for:
All-Star Backcourt: The Raptors are led by dynamic guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who combine for about 45 points per game. Lowry, a Western Conference All-Star starter, is averaging 21.1 ppg, 4.9rpg, 6.2apg, and 2.25spg. DeRozan, Toronto's leading scorer, averages 23.2ppg, 4.4rpg, and 4.1apg. There's a reason why both were selected to participate in the All-Star game and the Wolves may find out just why tonight.
Bench Play: Both teams rely on their benches in different ways. The Wolves rely on their bench more than anyone in the league, with the limited amount of minutes they get from their starting 5. With that, their bench is 1st in minutes played and 3rd in points per game. Toronto, on the other hand, doesn't need to rely on their 2nd unit to pick up the starters, but to maintain the lead the starters have made by productive and efficient play. They have not disappointed, having averaged 36.1 points and shot 49.9% over the past 13 games. If Minnesota wants a chance to win this game, they will need productive minutes out of their 2nd unit.
Double-Double Machine: Karl-Anthony Towns is currently 5th in the NBA in double-doubles with 29, and has been on a terror over the past 8 games, averaging 21.8 points (60%fg) and 12.5 rebounds, resulting in 8 straight DD's. He does a lot of fun stuff on the court...like this
And his dunk celebrations may be the best in the league.
It seems like he would be a fun guy to hang out with.
Points: Andrew Wiggins (20.7)
Rebounds: Karl-Anthony Towns (10.1)
Assists: Ricky Rubio (8.6)
Steals: Ricky Rubio (2.2)
Blocks: Karl-Anthony Towns (1.8)
Points: DeMar DeRozan (23.2)
Rebounds: Jonas Valanciunas (9.4)
Assists: Kyle Lowry (6.2)
Steals: Kyle Lowry (2.3)
Blocks: Bismack Biyombo (1.5)
Questionable: Kevin Martin (wrist)
OUT: Kevin Garnett (knee)
OUT: Nikola Pekovic (foot)
Questionable: Amir Johnson (ankle)
OUT: DeMarre Carroll (knee)
That's all I have for this one. Jerry Zgoda (Strib) just reported that Tayshaun Prince will miss tonight's game so he can attend Chauncey Billup's jersey retirement tonight in Detroit, which means Kevin Martin will get some minutes if his wrist feels better tonight. It also means that Lavine or Bazz will most likely slide into the starting lineup playing alongside Wiggins in the backcourt.
Let's hope the Wolves can finish the first half strong and pick up some of the momentum that was lost in the clunker against New Orleans.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.