3 in the Key - Raptors' Game-Day Preview vs Timberwolves

The Toronto Raptors return home tonight to host the Minnesota Timberwolves. Should they feel confident of putting an end to their mini-slump? The HQ’s Sasha Kalra weighs up the action...

The Toronto Raptors come into tonight’s game losers of two straight and will be looking to record a morale-boosting win. In recent years a matchup against the lowly T’wolves would be looked at as an opportunity to get such a win but these aren’t your ordinary Timberwolves.

Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams have been added to an already-dangerous squad of up and coming players. Kevin Love in particular seems to be benefitting from a great on-court relationship with Rubio, much akin to the chemistry we are currently seeing develop between Jose Calderon and Amir Johnson.

Rubio seems to have settled into the NBA style and is already rounding into form. Derrick Williams remains a work-in-progress but his offensive game and his rebounding are there for all to see. The jury is still out there as to whether he is a true small forward or a power forward, but its pretty clear that he is a very good basketball player. Rick Adelman has already gone on the record saying that when Williams learns how to play and more importantly defend at the 4, he is going to run with a frontcourt of Beasley, Williams and Love.

The T-Wolves might sport a fairly non-glamourous record of 3 and 5, and are coming off a game last night (a win over the hapless Wizards), but they should not be underestimated.

Here are 3 things the Dinos should keep in mind while trying to get a much-needed win tonight:

1) Rebound the ball: Minnesota come into this game 1st in the league in rebounds per game and it all starts with Kevin Love. The 1-time all star and reigning Most Improved Player has had 8 straight games with at least 20 points and 12 rebounds. In order to keep possessions alive and prevent easy second chance points, the Raptors need to hit the glass and make sure they grab any rebounds that come their way. Andrea Bargnani was great on the glass last time out and Amir Johnson needs to remain active.

2) Target the Rookies: Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams are two terrific talents but they are relatively new to this whole NBA thing. Rubio and Calderon know each other well from their days as teammates (and positional rivals) for the Spanish National Team. Calderon should have some idea about what his tendencies are and how he can exploit potential weaknesses in his game and I fully expect him to come into this match looking to make a statement against his compatriot.

3) Get to the Line: The Raptors only made it to the free throw line 12 times against the Sixers and are near the bottom of the league in the free throw categories. Bargnani has shown an improvement in his attacking of the basket this year but the rest of the team needs to step up and help get easy scores. This team is probably the most offensively-limited Raptors’ club we’ve seen in a while and if they plan on hanging around in games (or scoring more than 62 points) they need to generate easy offence.

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