Raptors [33-15] vs Timberwolves [33-20]: Preview and 3 keys


After losing a tough battle in their previous meeting, the Toronto Raptors will look to exact revenge against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home Tuesday night.

Last time the Toronto Raptors faced the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Wolves had every advantage. The Raptors were playing on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back and clearly ran out of gas in the second half.

The tables have turned for Tuesday night’s contest between the two teams. The second matchup will be played in Toronto this time around and it will be the Timberwolves who are playing on the second game of a back-to-back, after a disappointing loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

While Minnesota will be playing on the road and without rest, the biggest difference between the two games is the availability of Jimmy Butler.

Last time around the Timberwolves were able to beat the Raptors without their best player. A late scratch, Jimmy Butler, missed the last game with a sore right knee. Tuesday he figures to be back and at full strength as a perfect two-way guard to matchup with DeMar DeRozan.

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With Butler out last game, it was Minnesota’s young superstars that took the game over. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns combined for 51 points on greater than 60-percent shooting against the Raptors in their first meeting.

Meanwhile Kyle Lowry carried the Raptors scoring 40-points while canning six triples.

Besides the play from the teams’ secondary stars, another deciding factor was the bench performances. The Toronto Raptors are known for their deep, talented bench, while the Timberwolves are the exact opposite. You wouldn’t have known from watching their previous game, as the Timberwolves reserves dominated the Raptors bench throughout the game.

This time around the Raptors will have the home-court advantage and rest on their side. However, they also will have to deal with Butler, one lofty task.

Three Keys

  1. Run the Break- Minnesota’s transition defense has been a struggle all year. Last meeting, the Raptors outscored the Timberwolves 15-to-2 via fast-break points. This matchup they should look to take advantage running the break once again.
  2. Dominate the bench – Toronto’s bench is too good, and Minnesota’s is not good enough for the Raptors’ reserves to be outplayed.
  3. Feed Valanciunas – Due to foul trouble, Jonas Valanciunas was only able to play a little over 11 minutes last game against the Wolves. This time around he will need to stay on the court and go after  Towns who is a weak, although improving, defender.

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At home, coming off a day’s rest, look for the Raptors to wear the Wolves down. The game is close for the first three-quarter but ultimately Toronto pulls away, winning by 12.