The Raptors may not have a transformative young player on their roster in the mould of Karl-Anthony Towns. Or like Andrew Wiggins. Or, maybe not even like Kris Dunn or Zach LaVine (both not playing tonight). We've got high hopes for Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright and Norman Powell (sorry Bruno), but who knows where their ultimate trajectory will lie? (My money is on Norm being the best of the bunch, but honestly, sincerely, who knows?)
What the Raptors have that the Timberwolves lack is obvious: wins! Minnesota has just not been able to figure out how to win. They've slid into the role previously held by their brethren in Utah, who, once upon a time, also had a young roster of upstarts dreaming of making it into the playoffs. That dream looks to be coming true for the Jazz (after a few years!) but not so just yet for the Timberwolves.
So the Raptors have some experience and confidence on their side. They also have the talents of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who will most definitely make short work of whoever the T-Wolves attempt to throw at them. (Ricky Rubio? Brandon Rush? ... a 10-day contract version of Lance Stephenson???) One can suppose Wiggins will have a shot against DeRozan, but one can also see that DeRozan had 27 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists the last time these two teams met. Well then.
This has all become fairly humdrum for the Raptors. They are expected to win. They need to win. And we want them to win. My man Will Lou touched on this in a moving piece over at The Defeated. The Raptors just need to go out there and handle business. It may not always be fun, but it needs to get done.
Now check out my preview here -- which is part of your un-fun homework, obviously -- and then get in the comments. We're almost live.