So coming off what I would say was an impressive win over the Knicks (if it is possible to have an “impressive” win over the Knicks…wait, this is the Raptors…okay, it was impressive), the Raptors now walk into a game against the Wolves, which one would assume would be something appetizing for a team trying to find its way.
In case you haven’t been following, the Raptors own the Timberwolves right now. The Raps go into this game looking for their 10th straight win over Minnesota, a team that has lost 7 of their last 8. Things pretty much couldn’t set up a lot better for the Raptors, especially since they haven’t had much of a problem scoring against the Wolves and are hoping to have their uptempo style from the New York game (er…the second one) carry over.
But as we have seen many times this season, the Raptors aren’t exactly the most mentally tough team. Hopefully, the addition of Marion has changed that, as when he spoke after the loss to the Knicks, the Raptors responded the next time out with a much better effort and naturally, a better result. It will be important for the Raptors not to think that they have everything clicking and that they are going to sail past the Wolves, because as soon as you start to look past somebody, they jump up and bite you in the rump. Remember OKC anybody?
With four Raptors posting double-doubles in their win over the Knicks, one thing that was evident was good ball movement, which we saw from the Raptors pulling down boards and immediately pushing the ball up the court. JT noted that the Raptors don’t necessarily have to grab a board and then wait for Jose to push it up the court, that other players (especially Marion) are encouraged to get the ball up the court as quickly as possible to capitalize on numbers or to simply catch the opposition flat-footed. Hopefully we can see some of that same kind of energy this game, but as long as it doesn’t come at the price of guys not getting back on D>
3 in the Key
1. Don’t overlook the Wolves. If the Wolves are able to keep it close early, they might start to get some confidence and things might get a little sticky for the Raptors.
2. Run. If the Raptors are going to show some energy on the floor and play an uptempo pace, they are going to have to fully commit to it.
3. Put it away early. The Raptors need to get ahead early and close this out. The more confidence they can gain from securing wins that they are supposed to win, the better.