The Minnesota Timberwolves will play their first road game of the season vs. the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre on Sunday night. It'll be the first of a two-game road trip (the other coming the following night vs. the Nets, in Brooklyn).
Minnesota is 1-0 on the season after defeating the Sacramento Kings on Friday night at the Target Center, 92-80. J.J. had 21 points, 4reb, 5ast and one block in 28 minutes off the bench. Stiemsma & Dante also came off the bench to have good games, Dante contributed 7 points and 9 rebounds in 25 minutes and Stiemer had 9pts, 7reb and 4blks. Kirilenko had the all-around game, finishing with 10pts, 7reb, 5ast and one block.
The Toronto Raptors are 0-2 on the year (0-1 at home & 0-1 on the road). Their last loss came against the Nets in Brooklyn on Saturday night. The Raptors got within two points with 1:17 to play, but that's as close as they'd get as the Nets held on for the 7-point victory; 100-107. Kyle Lowry led the Raps with 28pts, 8reb, 8ast, 3stls and one block in 40 minutes as the starting point guard. DeMar DeRozan added 25pts, 3reb, 1ast and 1stl in 34 minutes.
The Timberwolves need to get Nikola going early in this matchup. The Raptors don't have the strongest (biggest) frontline and Pek should be able to impose his will on the low-block. The Raptors start Jonas Valanciunas a 6'11", 231lb. rookie. I wouldn't doubt that Dwane Casey could decide (instead) to start Aaron Gray at center, who's 7-foot, 270lbs. Pek struggled in that first game vs. the Kings, scoring just 9 points (on 2-of-8 shooting) and grabbing only 5 rebounds. We all know he's capable of more--and he should be able to versus the Raptors and Valanciunas, Gray, (Amir) Johnson and (Andrea) Bargnani.
Let's take a look at the probable starting lineups...
If the Timberwolves want any chance of winning this game, the Wolves need to find a way to slow down Kyle Lowry: scoring, rebounds, assists, steals--he's been doing it all through these first two games. I'd say there's a good chance he could be in for another big game--I'm just not sure Luke Ridnour or J.J. Barea can slow him down.
I assume Roy will be guarding Fields and Kirilenko will take the better offensive player: DeMar DeRozan (heck, he might even guard Lowry). The TWolves hold advantages at center, but Kirilenko is my choice to 'breakout' in this game!
The Timberwolves are definitely the better team. Analysts can't seem to agree on the Raptors this season. Some say they're a lock for the postseason (in a 7th or 8th seed) while others say they're a lock to make another appearance in the lottery.
Sunday's game tips at 5pmCT and will be shown on NBATV. As always, we'll have the recap right here following the final horn. Until then, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!