By: Dan Slaubaugh
After an 0-2 road trip, the Timberwolves return home to face one of the top teams in the East.. The team from down south currently sits 31-13 and 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. Coach Dwayne Casey has adjusted his offensive system to fit the modern NBA game (spacing, lots of 3's), giving Toronto a sustainable offense that can excel through 82 games and throughout the playoffs. They come into tonight's game ranked in the top-five in both offensive and defensive rating.
The Raptors will be on the end of a back-to-back after defeating San Antonio 86-83 at home last night, while Minnesota comes home after a 116-98 defeat in Houston Thursday night.
This will be another tough test for the Wolves, who's schedule doesn't get easier after tonight.
What: Wolves vs. Raptors
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When: 8 PM CT
Where to watch: Fox Sports North
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
What to watch for:
Dynamic Duo: With two All-Stars at the guard spots in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, you can pretty much count on 45-50 points per contest coming from those two. Through 44 games, Lowry has been the steadying force that keeps Toronto's offense humming while DeRozan is averaging a team-high 25.2 points (third among East guards), a career-high 5.0 assists and is shooting a career-best .345 (48-for-139) from three-point range. They are undoubtedly in the conversation for best back-court in the league.
East woes: It's weird. The Wolves have an NBA-best 23-7 record versus Western Conference opponents but are 6-11 against Eastern Conference opponents. My guess to why that is pertains to the West being built to "run and gun". The Wolves are built to slow it down, so when they play the rest of the West they take them out of rhythm. Eastern Conference teams are built to "slow it down", so they are adjusted to it. Time will tell if the Wolves can solve their Eastern Conference issues for good tonight against one of the league's best road teams.
Tyus Jones: Coach Tom Thibodeau needs to be given a lot of credit in how Tyus has developed, especially defensively. However, he does him no favors regarding playing time. The former Dukie is averaging a little under 15 minutes since Teague's return and deserves more. I understand not starting him, Teague is the guy you brought in to do that, but Tyus should still be playing with starters at times.
-The Wolves are 18-6 at home this season and responded to their last back-to-back losses by winning the five games on the homestand by at least 10 points.
-The Wolves will wear their "statement jerseys" for the third time this season.
-Toronto has had five back-to-backs so far and are 3-2 in the second game of back-to-back this season.
Minnesota: PG Jeff Teague, SG Andrew Wiggins, SF Jimmy Butler, PF Taj Gibson, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Toronto: PG Kyle Lowry, SG DeMar DeRozan, SF OG Anunoby, PF Serge Ibaka, C Jonas Valunciunas
Wolves take care of business for the sixth straight time at home, defeat a Raptors team on the end of a back-to-back, 106-101.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.