The Toronto Raptors are set to kick off the 2023-24 regular season against the visiting Anthony Edwards and Minnesota Timberwolves. This will be the first time we get to truly see this new iteration of Toronto play a truly meaningful game.
A huge factor tonight that is in Toronto’s favor is that Minnesota will be without arguably their best defender in Jaden Mcdaniels, so this will make the offense a bit easier. They still have to worry about Rudy Gobert patrolling the paint but as far as on ball defenders go, Minnesota is without their best one. Minnesota also has the incredible Anthony Edwards on their side and he will be a headache for them to stop because he is such a skilled and athletic scorer. OG Anunoby most likely gets the primary matchup on him but even an elite defender like OG will need backline help at times to contain such an explosive player, which Toronto has plenty of. Karl Anthony-Towns also has to be planned for because he is a widely skilled offensive player as well. Since they run a double big lineup and Jakob will have to stick with Gobert, it will probably be Pascal or Scottie tasked with guarding Towns. It’ll be hard to help off of him because of his shooting prowess and Pascal is more impactful as a help defender so perhaps Darko gives Barnes the Towns assignment and has Pascal on a wing so he can be in a better position to help on defense.
The bonus to Jaden Mcdaniels being out is that Pascal Siakam is going to have a favorable matchup tonight. It’ll most likely be Kyle Anderson who is elevated into the starting lineup and tasked with guarding Siakam and more than likely Siakam can take full advantage of that matchup. Scottie Barnes should have a favorable matchup as well and Toronto needs to involve Karl Anthony-Towns in a lot of their offensive actions because he is not a great defender and if they could potentially get them to switch a smaller player onto Scottie it’ll be very beneficial. There are good matchups all over the court for Toronto but it will be containing Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony-Towns that will be the deciding factor in this game.
The bench minutes from Toronto should be interesting tonight because of the improvements made in the second unit compared to last season. Gary Trent Jr can come in and provide a spark, Precious Achiuwa can come in and impact the game defensively, Jalen Mcdaniels can do the same things well, and then you’ve got the sharpshooter Gradey Dick who will see his first NBA action tonight. Not to mention the return of Otto Porter Jr. So the bench minutes from the preseason should leave fans optimistic about the level of play we will see from the second unit tonight and moving forward.
With Minnesota running a double big lineup it would behoove Toronto to take advantage of the lack of speed in that frontcourt and aim to really get out in transition. Scottie Barnes constantly pushes the pace in transition, the same with Dennis Schroeder as well, there should be multiple players who can get back before Gobert or Towns can recover and this should lead to multiple easy looks. Toronto’s half court offense still isn’t great and the shooting definitely still has a lot of question marks around it but transition play has always been their saving grace and it should be tonight as well.
Tip-Off: 7:30 pm EDT | TV: Sportsnet 1, Sportsnet 1 4K
Jaden Mcdaniels is out with a calf injury
PG: Mike Conley, Jordan Mclaughlin, Shake Milton
SG: Anthony Edwards, Nickeil Alexander-Walker
SF: Kyle Anderson, Troy Brown Jr.
PF: Karl Anthony-Towns, Leonard Miller
C: Rudy Gobert, Naz Reid
Christian Koloko is out with an illness.
PG: Dennis Schroder, Malachi Flynn, Markquis Nowell,
SG: O.G. Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, Gradey Dick, Javon Freeman-Liberty
SF: Scottie Barnes, Jalen McDaniels, Otto Porter Jr, Garrett Temple, Ron Harper Jr.
PF: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Precious Achiuwa Thaddeus Young,
C: Jakob Poeltl,
Minnesota is favored by 1.5 O/U is 224.5.