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Raptors at Minnesota Timberwolves Trying to Dominate Again

The 34-26 Atlantic Division leading Toronto Raptors kick off a back-to-back on the road in Minnesota against the Timberwolves on Sunday night and if history is any indication, this isn’t going to be a pleasant experience for the home crowd.

The Raptors defeated the Timberwolves in Toronto on January 17th 94-89 for their tenth home win in a row against the team from Minnesota and on Sunday, Toronto will get their chance to sweep the season series for the eighth time in the past 10 years.

This year, the about to be decade long lottery bound Timberwolves are above the .500 mark at 31-30 led by their two big men Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. The addition of Kevin Martin in the off season gave this team some badly needed scoring on the wing, but as of now, they still sit 5 games out of a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference.

In their only visit to Toronto, Martin led the Timberwolves with 18 points, but Love (16 pts) and Pekovic (13 pts) were held far below their season averages and this high scoring team struggled against the very defensive-minded Raptors. Once again, this will be a battle between the league’s fourth highest scoring team and the NBA’s fourth best defense.

For some reason, the Raptors Amir Johnson has enjoyed considerable success against Love that he once explained as just trying to stay in front of him and the Timberwolves haven’t been able to find a way to keep Pekovic in the game. This just hasn’t been a good matchup for Minnesota.

Kyle Lowry certainly enjoyed playing the Timberwolves in Toronto. He took advantage Ricky Rubio to score 24 points and nail 6-9 three-point shots last time and on the scoreboard, it was the Raptors superior three-point shooting that made the difference. Even though Minnesota is the 27th worst three-point shooting team at 33.9 percent, they took 18 attempts (down from their season average of 21.9) and connected on only 3. The Raptors on the other hand rank 12th in three-point shooting and they hit 11-24.

The Timberwolves are playing well since the All-Star break winning 6 of 8, but so have the Raptors and just put those tough Western Conference analogies to bed. After beating Golden State and the Kings, Toronto is 12-12 against the West while Minnesota is 17-22.

There are no easy road wins in the NBA and if the Raptors don’t play up to their own defensive standards, these Timberwolves can bury them in an avalanche of points, but somehow that just doesn’t seem likely.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

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