After a terrible back to back weekend against the Nets and Sixers the Raptors look to try to turn things around against a Wolves squad that has played everyone tough this season and has an ultra athletic squad balanced with the play of Kevin Love and point guard Ricky Rubio, who has the league buzzing with his playmaking and fourth quarter abilities.
Of course tonight will be a special moment as Rubio goes against his countrymate and Spanish national team rival Jose Calderon in their first NBA matchup against each other. Rubio and Calderon have very similar games, based on passing and taking shots only when needed, expect both of them to bring their best effort tonight in what should be a very interesting and entertaining matchup for the ACC crowd.
Beyond the sexy storyline there is the big problem for the Raptors and that is keeping Kevin Love off of the glass. The Raptors showed their rebounding problems against the Nets and a fifteen rebound per game presence like Kevin Love can only exasperate things. Expect Amir Johnson to be given the task of boxing out Love as he is the Raptors best rebounder (at 7.5 boards per game, but still). Damn, do I miss Reggie Evans on nights like this.
Derrick Williams will also be a key player that the Raptors will have to deal with, Williams has carved a niche with his slashing ability, allowing Rubio to set him up for some highlight reel pass and dunk combos/alley-oops. If the Raptors want to avoid being on the receiving end of a YouTube clip they will need to be aware of Williams’ slashing ability and recognize where he is on the floor, especially in transition.
If the Raptors want to win tonight they will likely will have to get it done on the defensive end of the floor, as they have averaged only 87.5 points per game so far this season, so don’t expect an old school Raptors shoot out any time soon.
Tip-off is 7:00 PM EST and Canadian viewers can catch the action on TSN2