The Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves have experienced contrasting fortunes since the previous game between these two sides last Sunday which the latter won. The Raptors have won two straight and are back in the running for the NBA Playoffs while the Timberwolves are on a two-game losing streak.
Fixture: Toronto Raptors vs Minnesota Timberwolves | NBA Season 2020-21
Date & Time: Friday, February 19th, 9 PM ET (Saturday, 7:30 AM IST)
Venue: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Toronto Raptors Preview
The Toronto Raptors are high on confidence after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in consecutive matchups. They're just two games behind the third seed in the East despite losing eight of their first 10 fixtures of the season. A major reason behind the Raptors' uptick in fortunes in the two-way play of Fred VanVleet who's having a career-year after signing an extension in the offseason.
Pascal Siakam has overcome his struggles from the bubble run and is averaging a solid 20.8 points and 7.7 rebounds through 26 games. Kyle Lowry is set to miss out with a thumb issue which means that Norman Powell will get the chance to shine against Minnesota Timberwolves. Powell is Toronto Raptors' most reliable three-point shooter and has averaged 21.7 points on a 50-40-90 clip in February so far.
Key Player - Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet will be the main vocal presence on the court for the Toronto Raptors in Lowry's absence. The diminutive guard is amongst the best perimeter defenders in the league despite his size while averaging 20.3 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. He'll also be Nick Nurse's go-to guy down the stretch against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Toronto Raptors Predicted Lineup
G Fred VanVleet, G DeAndre' Bembry, F Normal Powell, F OG Anunoby, C Pascal Siakam
Minnesota Timberwolves Preview
The Minnesota Timberwolves had playoff aspirations to start the season but they currently have a league-worst 7-22 record. Head coach Ryan Saunders never got the chance to utilize the star potential of his side's roster with Karl-Anthony Towns missing the first month of the season. Now that he's fit, D'Angelo Russell has been sidelined for a similar period.
All these injuries have allowed the second-string names on the Minnesota Timberwolves to flourish. Malik Beasley is averaging nearly 21 points per game while sophomore Naz Reid has established himself as a reliable stretch center. Rookie Anthony Edwards has been impressive as well and had 18 points in the previous game against the Toronto Raptors.
Key Player - Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is slowly getting back to his best following his lengthy COVID layoff. Towns is averaging 21.6 points and nine rebounds in the five games he's played since returning but the Minnesota Timberwolves talisman is capable of putting up much better numbers. The Toronto Raptors lack depth in the center department and Towns should be looking to dominate his matchups.
Minnesota Timberwolves Predicted Lineup
G Ricky Rubio, G Malik Beasley, F Anthony Edwards, F Jarred Vanderbilt, C Karl-Anthony Towns
Raptors vs Timberwolves Match Prediction
The Toronto Raptors have pretty much everything going for them on paper. They are the in-form side and have more reliable scoring options than the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Raptors are clearly better on the defensive end as well. Lowry's absence will be a factor but Nick Nurse's men have showcased their depth on many occasions this season. Expect VanVleet and co. to win this tie.
Where to watch Raptors vs Timberwolves?
The matchup will be telecasted in Canada on TSN. Local coverage of the same in the USA will be available on FOX Sports North. You can also live stream this game on the NBA League Pass.