It’s been one heck of a start to the season for the Raps and there’s a slightly different vibe in the air. This team is a little deeper and a little better suited for a division lead or even a conference lead. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though because we’ve seen this story before. Big man gets hurt, team tries to fill his shoes, team struggles against powerhouse clubs. Now, enter the wild card Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves have upset Charlotte, the Lakers and Memphis already this season – three highly ranked clubs – so Toronto should not take them lightly.
Following their latest loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers by just four at home on Monday, the Raps could use a nice feel-good game. Big wins over Atlanta, the Lakers, Memphis and Philly last week had the team feeling on top of the world but a loss to one of the league’s elite is always a downer. They’ll only get so many shots against Cleveland before ultimately (and speculatively) seeing them again in the playoffs, so these mid-season dress rehearsals are important.
With that said, the team needs a little pick-me-up and they will find it in hometown boy Andrew Wiggins return to the ACC. The Timberwolves are 6-14, near the bottom of the West and only have two wins in their last nine games. This one should be a layup even though, as mentioned, the Wolves have the ability to surprise. TopBet gives the Raptors a significant edge over the Timberwolves on Thursday night even though the Raps haven’t showed resilience after tough losses to big teams so far this season.
They’ve now lost each of their three meetings with Cleveland and they followed their first two with a narrow win over Denver and a loss to Golden State. The team also followed up their Golden State loss with a slim overtime win over the Nuggets again. They haven’t come out of the gates hot after playing the tougher squads because they typically have a little less in the tank. That’s just the way it is. So we should expect to see a little bit of exhaustion on Thursday, despite having a few days off between games.
While this Raps team is a little deeper, it’s still looking for its identity in the paint. As was stated off the top, we’ve seen this story before. Jared Sullinger is still at least a month away from practicing and in the meantime, they’re trying everybody with a pulse in a fill roll looking for the next Bismack off the bench.
So while the team has been off to a quality start, outside of their losses to the juggernauts of the NBA, we should never get ahead of ourselves. We’ve learned to take it game by game in Toronto and coming up on Thursday we should be in for a treat…or at the very least another feel good W.