The T-Wolves are in town.
The T-Wolves are in town.

Coming off of a pair of tough and narrow losses to teams expected to be top contenders in the East, the Raptors return home to host the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight.

But please don’t think the sledding gets any easier – despite a David Kahn-based reputation for ineptitude (not to mention seven straight seasons south of .402) and the injuries to Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, this is a pretty solid Wolves outfit. The Wolves beat the Kings in their opener, 92-80, and though that shouldn’t impress anyone, this still looks like a competitive team while they wait for their two stars to return.

For the Raptors, this is a chance to assert themselves as they have in the first two games against a team they probably have more talent then. Hopefully Dwane Casey has the guys as fired up as they were for Saturday’s opening quarter, because a home game against a weaker team following an away game against a strong team has “trap” written all over it. With that said, it’s the third game of the season and it would be a terrible sign for the team to come out flat already, so I anticipate a motivated Raptors squad.

Since this is the second game day in a row, let’s just get right into it.

Positional Breakdown
Guards: Kyle Lowry (starter) and Jose Calderon vs. Luke Ridnour (starter) and J.J. Barea
Advantage: Raptors
Lowry continued to show his mucho huevos on Saturday, putting up a ridiculous line and at times looking like he might will the Raptors to a victory. As it is, he took a few ill-advised shots late and the Raptors fell short, but it’s a game they wouldn’t have been in if not for Lowry’s tenacity. The Raptors may have the two best point guards in this game as, while Barea can fill it up and Ridnour is a nice distributor, neither is a starting-calibre point guard right now. It’s possible the Wolves could deploy some two-PG sets given their thin wing positions, and the Raptors should welcome this since their Lowry-Jose combo could handle Ridnour-Barea defensively (with Lowry obviously on the much quicker Barea).

Wings: DeMar DeRozan (starter), Landry Fields (starter), Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson vs. Brandon Roy (starter), Andrei Kirilenko (starter), Alexey Shved and Chase Budinger
Advantage: Wolves
This is only a slight advantage given what we saw from DeRozan on Saturday night. Roy has a really nice story and looked alright in their opener, but I’m not sure you can pencil him in for 35 minutes and/or 20 points any longer. AK47 is back in the NBA, which is fantastic as he’s a treat to watch fill up the boxscore (and a great fantasy asset!). I’d assume he’ll draw some time on Bargnani rather than wasting his length on either Raptor wing, and the Wolves are likely to then hide Derrick Williams on Fields, since he apparently has no interest in scoring, ever (note: I’m not sure “hide” is the right word since I haven’t seen enough of Williams to judge his defense). DeRozan may struggle to post up Roy but should have an athleticism advantage, so he’ll need to show the aggression we saw last night (10 free throw attempts). When things go to the bench, Budinger is the best of the bunch and is a highlight waiting to happen. I still haven’t figured out Casey’s wing rotation, and maybe he hasn’t either, but I’d certainly hope to see Ross get another crack at playing time tonight.

Bigs: Andrea Bargnani (starter), Jonas Valanciunas (starter), Amir Johnson and Ed Davis vs. Derrick Williams (starter), Nikola Pekovic (starter), Dante Cunningham and Greg Steimsma
Advantage: Raptors
If, as I suspect, AK47 guards Bargs, he’ll be in tough as Kirilenko is a great defender. Bargnani will be forced to shoot over him, which will make him happy but drive us mad. Defensively, Williams is too athletic for Bargnani but hasn’t quite found his game yet at the NBA level. The talent is there and he’s capable of some big double-doubles, so Bargnani will need occasional help checking him, possibly from Davis or Dominic McGuire. Pekovic is a beast, a near-300-pound bulldozer who crashes his way to the rim with reckless abandon. Jonas will have to be careful not to pick up early fouls playing against a huge center for the third straight game (a nice trial-by-fire to start his career), but he should also have a quickness advantage at the offensive end that could afford him some success as the dive-man. The benches are a big advantage for the Raptors, as Steimsma blocks shots but doesn’t do much else and Cunningham is just alright. Ed and Amir have both looked good so far, so if Aaron Gray plays more than 10 minutes I may snap.

The Line
Vegas Line: Raptors-3, over/under 189
My call: Raptors by 10, over

The Timberwolves certainly aren’t a bad unit but the Raptors have looked good so far, too, and have a depth and talent advantage at most spots. Kirilenko’s craftiness and versatility, Pekovic’s bull-in-a-china-shop offense, and the potential for Roy to explode are all concerns, of course, but I’m putting my faith in another strong showing from the back court and some lessons learned for the Lethaluanian keeping Gray off the floor (meaning we won’t be playing 5-on-4 on offense).


  • Asap Demar

    I hate players like gray and reggie evans there solid defenders but are a liability on offense 

  • http://twitter.com/DJAG88 Big D

    Things that need to be cleaned up are Casey’s rotations and the 2 PG lineup. I’m surprised that Casey hasn’t gotten his 8 to 9 man rotation yet and has gone 12 deep. I understand that for certain match-ups you can change who you think will help you win but it looks a lot like Casey’s still in that preseason mode experimenting with lineups. The two PG lineup should only be used for certain situations because it takes away from what we do defensively. It irks me that Casey wants to use that lineup to close out games. But having Jose guard SG’s is just asking us to get torched. I’d rather keep the starting unit but switch Fields for Anderson to give us some spacing on the wing. It’s a more balanced lineup of players who can attack and shoot giving us more options in late game situations. 

  • Jamshid

    Let hope we see more of Big Val and Ross tonight. Enough of Anderson, AG and …

  • Sean Evans

    Edit:  Wolves edged Sacramento 92-80, by a meager 12 points.  

    • BlakeMurphy

      Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500180039 Saransh Gaurav Bhatt

    Fields has scored a total of 2 points in two games, averaging 23 min/g… if he’s going to score less than 5 pts again, Dwane Casey better seriously consider starting T. Ross already. Landry better break out of his funk, or else hit the bench, cuz this is starting to get a bit ridiculous… we need more production from that spot to compete 

    • mountio

      Totally agree. If T Ross isnt playing and you hear someone tonight yelling T Ross’s name at Casey followed by a bunch of obsenities – thats me. Ill fucking lose it if AA is in again ahead of T Ross (let alone the useless Fields)….

    • what the

      “Landry better break out of his funk” is that what you call it

  • Purple-fever
    • Destro

      i aint buying a shirt with that faggot Andrea’s name anywhere on it…

  • mountio

    Brandon Roy (starter), Andrei Kirilenko (starter), Alexey Shved and Chase Budinger
    If your wings dont have an advantage against these guys .. not sure theyll have an advantage all year ..

    • Derozan dunk on yo mama

      Our wings do. We just don’t give them enough credit, DeRozan was lighting up the nets scoring effortlessly. And Fields had 4 assists and 5 rebounds in 22 mins of action with some good D also. Y’all need to look past the box score to understand a players value and talent 

      • BlakeMurphy

        I give DD plenty of credit. But AK is great, Roy is good, and Chase is better than either of our wings off the bench. I said the edge is slight, but I’d love to see the argument for DD+Fields+AA >AK+Roy+Chase on the whole.

  • tmk

    Barea is the type of player that always burn us. Let’s hope he doesn’t today.

    • BlakeMurphy

      Well we have our quickest defensive PG in some time so hopefully that’s no longer the case.

  • Jesse Khaira

    Casey needs to make a conscious effort towards making sure the team gets the ball to the right guys consistently down the stretch, especially when they’re up double digits. A guy like Bargnani should be looked for as a first option and so on and so forth. Settle down and make the right play.

  • what the

    raps 1-2 trust me

  • Destro

    This is a must win game….if you want 35-40 wins and playoffs MUST take care of these type of teams at home no ifs ands or butts….and all that noise about the schedule and maybe going 7-13 is non sense….

    If this team falls behind that much 1/4 into the season they wont make it back…
    You cant afford to fall behind that much when the window for error is so small..this team doesnt have 2 all star players capable of pulling off a 10 game winning streak…thi s team has to go on the road thinking they can win in OKC and Dallas…and they have ti win some of those games….

    You see Milwaukee winning in Boston the other night thats ur comp for the 8th seed,if they wining on the road like that THIS team has too as well….trsut me if this team falls 7-8 games under .500 25 games in there season is done….they aint good enough to make that ground back….

    • p00ka

      The 2006-07 season started out 7-13, and ended 47-35.

      • Destro

        One season dont make the rule faggot…that was an anamoly and you had a player by the name of Christopher Bosh…

  • OvertheWall

    As long as I see Bargnani’s face on the Raptors, we are going nowhere.  Soft, incompetent, stupid, inefficient, lazy, and the list goes on.

    • eatadic

      youre describing yourself faggot.

    • what the

      don’t forget about Dribbles

    • Destro

      YEP hes a worthless defender…and when he doesnt score he literally is a liability on the floor as your seeing tonight…

  • leftovercrack

    Lowry/Derozan actually not looking like a bad backcourt. Fields still hasn’t got his shot. JV is going to be good but is a rookie. I wish they would give Ed Davis a shot at starting. Since we probably have no first rounder next season we have to develop talent internally, and Lowry-Derozan-JV and Ed could give us a future – maybe

  • Destro

    Post defense is better with Amir and Ed…

    LOL @ Calderon getting posted up by a 5’6″ PG….

  • Destro

    Valanciunas and Bargnani are giving no resistance in the paint defensively..

  • minks77

    it’s the frickin Alan Anderson show

  • leftovercrack

    How can you be 7″ tall and have 0 rebounds and 0 blocked shots in an entire half?

    • Destro

      Id have Amir Johnson playing his mins second half…fugg it Amir is outplaying him in all facets of the game….fck his feelings go with the guy whos winning you the game…

      • leftovercrack

        I’d be okay with making him a scoring option off the bench and let Amir and Ed get most of minutes at PF

  • Destro

    Kyle Lowry wants a max deal…and tbh if he plays like this all season hes going to get it…

    • minks77

       my only concern with paying him max is my worry that he’s gonna hurt himself, but I wouldn’t hesitate. Just cross my fingers and pray to god for good health

  • Destro

    Raptors front court (Val and AB) are playing like shit…Both of em should be on the bench…

  • KJ-B

    Feel for #7… He’s not THIS bad…Love KLowry’s tempo–under control–bring it home son!  Deebo, playing like a regular thief on the defensive end, who knew??

    • Bargnani Who?

      No one frigging feels for Bargnani except for you.  Yes, he IS that bad.  He does not know what good shot selection is, that’s the problem, not his frigging talent level.

  • yeezy

    Trade Andrea Bargnani!!!! 

  • minks77

    man, we better close this out. Minny is inept. They are so depleted it feels like I’m watching an old raps game full of ten dayers

  • KJ-B

    Terrence Ross needs some food–some like Down South Fried Greeasyy stuff, yo!!!

    • KJ-B

      Also props to Casey–great substitution rotations 2nite…very Head Coach of your Sir!

  • minks77

    he finally hit a shot!

    They beat a team they had no business losing to. Good. NEXT!

  • Destro

    Hmmmmm Where shall i start….
     
    8/14  5/6 FT   7 boards 22 pts and seals the win down the stretch with free throws and good D,steals…

    Amir Johnson should be starting over Bargnani right now…When he doesnt score he doesnt give a shit about anything else…its evident tonight again…1 rebound is just pathetic…

    I think this could be the year hes moved and we have to thank DeRozan and Lowry’s presence for helping to push him out the door….Thank you Kyle !

  • Destro

    After 3 games :

    Rebounds

    Lowry 7.3
    Bargnani 2.3

    Is there something wrong here ?

    • Tim Holmes

      One is 6ft and plays like a 7ft man , the other is a 7ft and play like a 6ft girl.
      Heart beats size every time.

      • Destro

        Honestly i dont think bargnani would rebound in the WNBA…