Game 39 Preview: Wolves (18-20) @ Raptors (19-18)

Jan 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry (7) dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards during the second half at Verizon Center. The Raptors defeated the Wizards 101 – 88. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Two teams looking to atone for pretty dismal outings last time they laced them up. The Wolves, coming off a disappointing effort in San Antonio, acted like they didn’t have a Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to throw at a Rudy Gay scoring explosion. Gay went for 33 points on 12-19 shooting (at least 8 of which were jumpers from distance).

Toronto being Toronto, I can’t even say that anymore. The Raptors are the third seed in the Eastern Conference. (THIRD PLACE!!!) Their 19-18 record (7-3 over their last ten with two of those losses to the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers — if losses can be quality losses…) is good for a 3.5 game lead over the resurgent Brooklyn Nets (also 7-3 over their last ten games) and despite their 88-83 loss in Boston, the Raptors have won 3 of their last 4.

Likely Toronto starting lineup:

PG Kyle Lowry

SG Terrence Ross

SF DeMar DeRozan

PF Amir Johnson

C Jonas Valanciunas

The rumors earlier this season that Kyle Lowry was on the trading block don’t seem to have affected the point guard’s play. He’s averaging over 18 points, 8 assists, and a steal and a half on over 47% shooting from the field in over 35 minutes over his last ten games.

After a slow start, Jonas Valanciunas is coming on, sort of. Averaging 10 points and over 9 rebounds over his last five games in just 27 minutes — remember when Rudy Gay’s departure was going to open up the offensive opportunities for Valanciunas? Yeah. Jonas was the 5th overall pick in 2011 (the Derrick Williams draft).

Wolves likely starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Kevin Martin

SF Corey Brewer

PF Kevin Love

C Nikola Pekovic

If Kevin Martin can’t score semi-efficiently and Kevin Love continues to struggle. It doesn’t matter if Pek crushes. We’ll see if anything changes.

The 8th pick in the 2012 draft, Terrence Ross is shooting over 41% from 3 on the season and playing over 30 minutes a night over the last ten.

Topics: Jonas Valanciunas, Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry, Minnesota Timberwolves, Pregame, Preview, Ricky Rubio, Toronto Raptors

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