The Toronto Raptors are looking to bounce back from a close loss to the Boston Celtics as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at home.
The loss represented their first against a team under .500 since they lost in overtime on Dec 18th to the Charlotte Bobcats on a Kemba Walker buzzer-beater.
During that stretch they compiled one of the best records in the league, with losses coming only to the aforementioned Bobcats; Spurs, Pacers and Heat. The latter three represent powerhouse franchises, and the losses only serve to remind just how far this young team has to go. But they are beating teams they should.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a team that hoped to put it all together this year. With Kevin Love fully healthy, Ricky Rubio having another season under his belt, and the arrival of Kevin Martin, the Timberwolves hopes were as high as they’ve been since the end of the KG era.
Kevin Love has been sensational, to the tune of almost 26 points a game and 13 rebounds. He is a shoo-in for the All-Star game and he represents the best combination of big man fundamentals with elite shooting, ever. While Dirk Nowitzki is an amazing shooter, he never has had quite the dominating effort on the glass.
Unfortunately, the Timberwolves have not been able to establish a foothold in the stacked West, with a record of 18-20 coming into the game. If they had the luck of being in the East, they would find themselves in the 7th seed, as opposed to being stuck in the 11th seed now. Such is the state of the misaligned conferences.
Given that fact, the Toronto Raptors find themselves in the 3rd seed, with a record of 19-18. A win tonight would be a step in the right direction after a disappointing loss to a weak Celtics team.
Coach Dwane Casey has been harping on the idea that the team can’t afford to overlook teams. It seemed like the Raptors did overlook the Celtics, who were losers of 9 straight before taking the Raptors down.
While putting together a strong 4th quarter to close the gap in that game, they lost it on an embarrassing 2nd and 3rd quarter effort. Hopefully they play a full 48 minutes tonight.
Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry have been stellar to the point of being legitimate All-Star candidates. While they won’t be able to get in via fan votes, they both stand a good chance at making the second cut, when coaches are appointed to select the bench.
The Toronto Raptors come into tonight’s game with a 5-game home winning streak.