Preview: Minnesota At Toronto
When: 7:30 PM ET, Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Toronto Raptors remain the biggest threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference and showed off with a dominating performance on Monday in a 122-95 win over the New York Knicks. The Raptors will shoot for their 20th home victory when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.
Toronto is three games behind Cleveland for the East lead and will play nine of its next 10 games at home, including a showdown against the Cavaliers on Friday. The Raptors tuned up for that stretch of home games by riding point guard Kyle Lowry’s triple-double – 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists – to Monday’s easy win. The Timberwolves, who knocked off Toronto at home before the All-Star break, helped the Raptors extend the gap over the No. 3 spot in the East by holding off the Boston Celtics 124-122 on Monday. Minnesota rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns put up 35 points and 11 rebounds in the 117-112 win over Toronto on Feb. 10 and rolled up another double-double in the win over the Celtics.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), TSN2 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (18-39): Minnesota got at least 15 points out of each of its five starters and looked strong in the middle with Towns starting alongside fellow center Gorgui Dieng on Monday. Dieng is seeing an increase in minutes with Nikola Pekovic (foot) and Kevin Garnett (knee) out and picked up his sixth double-double in seven games with 17 points and 12 boards on Monday. The Timberwolves have won four of the last seven games as they kick off a stretch with nine of 11 games on the road.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (37-18): Lowry started for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game in Toronto on Feb. 14 and is averaging 22.3 points in three games since returning from the break. The Villanova product was an efficient 7-of-13 from the field in New York and got plenty of encouragement from his teammates as he went for the triple-double on Monday. “My teammates let me know, I will tell you that much,” Lowry told reporters. “They actually helped me and let me get that triple-double tonight, so I thanked them all and I appreciate them. It’s crazy how much these guys support me and I support them and we support each other.”
1. Raptors G DeMar DeRozan went over 20 points in each of the team’s three games since the break.
2. Timberwolves F Nemanja Bjelica (foot) sat out the last three games and is day-to-day.
3. Toronto had taken eight straight in the series before falling at Minnesota on Feb. 10.
PREDICTION: Raptors 115, Timberwolves 103