Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#555 Toronto Raptors -5 vs.
#556 Minnesota Timberwolves 221
Saturday, January 18, 2020 at 7:35pm EST
Target Center, Minneapolis
Written by Chris Kubala



#555 Toronto
#556 Minnesota


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It’s an interconference contest on the hardwood in the Twin Cities between a pair of teams on opposite sides of the playoff cut line in their respective conferences. The Toronto Raptors are on the road as they make the trip to face the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday night. Toronto was in action at home on Friday night as they hosted the Wizards. Minnesota closed their home and home set with the Pacers by traveling to the Hoosier State Friday night. The Raptors own a 31-15 advantage in the all-time regular season series and have won the last three meetings, including a 120-100 road win in the most recent matchup on April 9, 2019.

Toronto Raptors Trying to Climb Crowded Eastern Conference Ladder

Toronto was in action on Friday night at home as they faced Washington in an Eastern Conference clash. The Raptors entered that game second in the Atlantic Division, one game behind the Celtics for the top spot. Toronto stood fourth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, 9.5 games behind the Bucks for the top spot. The Raptors are 12-7 on the road this season. In those games, they average 107.5 ppg while allowing 103.5 ppg on the year. Toronto is 3-3 in the second game of back to back situations and have outscored the opposition by 1.9 ppg in those contests. The Raptors are 3-2 against teams from the Northwest Division this season.

The Raptors are 15th in the league in scoring offense with 110.8 points per game this season. Toronto is 10th in the league with 46.1 rebounds per contest and stands 10th in assists with 25.3 per game. The Raptors are 5th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 105.6 points per game. Pascal Siakam leads the team with 24.6 points plus 7.8 rebounds per contest. Kyle Lowry contributes 20.5 points plus 7.8 assists a game while Fred VanVleet puts up 18 points and seven assists per contest. Serge Ibaka (15.1 points, 8.5 rebounds), Norman Powell (14.9 points, 3.8 rebounds) and OG Anunoby (11.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) are guys that Nick Nurse is relying on in the Raptors’ rotation. Toronto is tied for 20th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 44.9 percent from the floor as a team. The Raptors are fifth in threes per game this season as they have knocked down 13.4 triples per contest while the team is tied for third in the league in three-point shooting by hitting 37.1 percent of their chances from long range. VanVleet has been out since January 4 with a hamstring injury but is expected to return over the weekend. He was questionable for Friday’s contest with Washington.

Minnesota Timberwolves Looking to Earn Home Win

Minnesota was in action for the second half of their back to back set with the Pacers on the road Friday night after dropping the first game at home. The Timberwolves entered Friday losers of three straight and in the basement of the Northwest Division, 13 games behind Denver for the top spot. In the Western Conference playoff picture, Minnesota stood tied for 12th, 3.5 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot. The Timberwolves are 6-13 at home on the season. In those games, Minnesota is averaging 108.2 ppg while allowing 112.1 ppg this year in those games. The Timberwolves are 2-3 in the second game of back to back this season and have been outscored by 22 points in those contests. Minnesota is 2-1 against Atlantic Division teams this season.

The Timberwolves enter this one 14th in the league in scoring offense as they average 111.3 points per game this season. Minnesota is seventh in the league in rebounding as they collect 46.4 boards per contest and 23rd as they dish out 22.6 assists per game. The Timberwolves are 25th in the league in scoring defense as they allow 114.5 points per contest. Karl-Anthony Towns is leading the team with 26.5 points, 11.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game. Andrew Wiggins contributes 22.8 points a night while Robert Covington (12.7 points), Jake Layman (10.5 points) and Shabazz Napier (9.6 points) are solid scoring options as well. Shabazz Napier, Jarrett Culver and Gorgui Dieng are other guys that need to contribute. Minnesota is 29th in field goal percentage as they shoot 43.2 percent from the floor this season. The Timberwolves are 8th by knocking down 12.6 threes per game while the team is 29th by shooting only 32.4 percent from beyond the arc as a team this season. Towns (knee) has been out since December 13 but hopes to return soon after missing Wednesday’s game with an illness. Layman (toe) remains without a firm timetable, making him likely missing for this contest. He has returned to shooting at practice but hasn’t played since November 18.

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Both teams are playing the second game of a back to back here and have to travel in for this one so there’s no rest advantage for either side. The trade of Jeff Teague to Atlanta, along with Treveon Graham, in exchange for Allen Crabbe, was a bit of a surprising move for the Timberwolves. Minnesota had been searching for another playmaking guard but instead shipped their starting point guard out of town. On the plus side, all three players have expiring deals, so there’s no long-term financial entanglements. Toronto hopes to have VanVleet back here, provided he doesn’t return Friday. The Raptors have talent and experience, which is the main thing that Minnesota is lacking. Give Toronto the upper hand in this one.

Prediction: Toronto Raptors

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Toronto has a good chance at being back to full speed for this one with VanVleet expected to return to the lineup. When the Raptors have all hands on deck, they are extremely dangerous on the offensive end of the floor. Toronto contends with a Minnesota team that, while in the middle of the pack in defending shots, is 25th in scoring defense because of the sheer volume of opportunities they give up. The Timberwolves love to push the tempo and try to get out in transition, which ultimately leaves them susceptible to giving up hefty point totals. With both teams playing the second game of a back to back, that could be tempered a bit but look for Nurse to be like a kid with a new car and see how fast he can push the team. This one goes over the number.

Prediction: Over

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.