The Toronto Raptors welcomed the Minnesota Timberwolves to Scotiabank Arena tonight as they attempt to climb in the standings during the last weeks of the regular NBA Season. With nearly similar records and placements in the East and West, it’s crunch time for both these teams.
The T-Wolves came into this game undermanned, missing Anthony Edwards after he suffered a bad ankle injury last night. They were also missing Karl Anthony Towns. Rudy Gobert was a game time decision, but played.
With the injuries, Minnesota was coming into the game on a back to back after playing last night in Chicago and going to Double OT. Seems like an easy win? Well the Raptors have fallen in several easier situations this season, so it could have gone either way.
The Raptors took advantage of the undermanned Minnesota squad early in the game, with Fred VanVleet scoring a quick 10 points in the first quarter. Poeltl did the same, scoring his own 10, but fouled twice early on. Nick Nurse mentioned that him getting into trouble effected the lineups later in the game.
Jakob Poeltl’s foul troubles also allowed Chris Boucher to get more minutes, which allowed him to make an impact. It may have not showed too much on his 5/4/1 stat line, but his was extremely impactful on defence, which Nurse also mentioned post-game.
The Raptors ended the first quarter up 32-26.
Fred VanVleet continued to put in the work in the second quarter, scoring 22 points in the first half alone.
Christian Koloko also checked in, sporting his new face mask. Koloko fractured his nose this week but is back on the court.
The Raptors went into halftime up 66-58.
Though Minnesota did at one point make a comeback, leading 77-76 mid-way through the third quarter, the Raptors continued to stay dominant. Though Siakam had a slower start, he really ramped it up in the third quarter and had 25 going into the fourth.
The Raptors led 94-85 after three quarters.
The fourth quarter saw the Raptors extend their lead and stay there. Which, judging by the fourth quarters of games past this season, we will take.
The Raptors take the game 122-107.
Some more detailed positives from the night:
Gary Trent Jr.
Trent Jr. ended the night with 19 points, three assists, five steals, and three rebounds off the bench. After not feeling well on the Raptors’ recent road trip, he was back to feeling more like himself tonight.
Nurse mentioned post game that the team has a lot of trust in Trent Jr., especially in his role of being an offensive powerhouse. He has proved he can make an impact off the bench, and tonight’s stat line was proof of that.
VanVleet scored 22 of his 28 total points tonight in the first half. He exploded out of the gate, scoring 10 quick points, 6 of those coming in three point shots.
In total, he ended with 28 points, seven assists, and three rebounds. They don’t call him Steady Freddy for nothing.
Boucher’s stat line of five points, four rebounds and one assist certainly is head turning, but he made an impact on defence. He ended the night with a +/- of 9.
He was able to have more minutes because Jakob Poeltl got into foul trouble, but having him ready to come off the bench and be a role player even with inconsistent minutes is key to the Raptors depth — something they have been lacking in.
The Raptors play again right away tomorrow as they will face maybe the best team in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks. It’ll be a quick one game road trip for the team before coming back for their last home stand of the season.
The Raptors are now 35-36 on the season.