Aaah, retro night number one in Toronto.
Tonight the Raps (or, considering that it's the first of six retro nights should we say "the Huskies") take on the T-Wolves at the ACC, with Toronto looking to inch that much closer to a .500 record by grabbing another much-needed win.
The Raps have won their last two in a row, and are continuing to look build on the momentum they've had since coach Jay Triano held a "get it off your chest" meeting nearly a week ago.
And really, what better way to keep said momentum going than by facing the beleaguered T-Wolves at home.
To put it simply Minnesota has struggled this season.
They have only 3 wins to date, are the second worst team in the league in terms of offensive efficiency, and are hardly a great defensive team either. They haven't gotten the type of play they've expected from many players, including Al Jefferson, who's averaging only about 16 points and 8 rebounds a game, down from 23 and 11 last season.
On paper, this looks like an easy W number 10.
But as we discuss in our 3 keys, this isn't a game the Dinos should take lightly...
1) Attack, attack, attack.
One of the reasons the Raps were so successful in their past two outings is because they were immediately aggressive from tip-off. Against both Washington and Chicago, Toronto jumped out to big first quarter leads and that helped set the tone for the rest of the game. Players like DeMar DeRozan were especially aggressive and I'll be looking to see this continue tonight.
Minnesota as mentioned is not a great defensive team and is horrid offensively. Therefore, even if the Raps are unable to get many stops, this is a game where their offence can carry them to victory.
2) Rebound the ball.
One area that Minnesota can be very effective is rebounding. With the return of Kevin Love, the Wolves boast a few double-digit rebounding threats who can create easy second-chance opportunities for Minnesota. Considering how poor-scoring the T-Wolves are, it's imperative that Bosh, Bargs, and the other Toronto bigs keep Minny's rebounders at bay. Just because the Raptors' opponent tonight is shooting only 44 per cent from the field, doesn't mean I want to see them get multiple opportunities on O to try and increase that percentage.
3) Play to your potential.
Wayne Ellington? Oleksiy Pecherov? Damien Wilkins? Nathan Jawai?
To the casual observer Minny's depth is hardly intimidating. Even the Wolves' starting line-up looks shaky on paper but this is one team Toronto can't afford to underestimate.
Despite the aforementioned three victories, Minnesota has snuck up and beaten quality teams like Denver and Utah recently, and as Raptors' fans, we all know that the home team tonight has had a nasty habit of playing down to its level of competition.
While Minny isn't a great team, this is the NBA and really, any team can grab a W on any given night.
The Timberwolves play at one of the fastest paces in the league as well so tonight I want to see Toronto get back in transition and force the Wolves to play a TO style game, not the reciprocal.
A sustained effort is a must this evening as I don't want to be back here in the morning (or via live-blog tonight) trying to break-down loss number 14 instead of win number 10.