The fans at Air Canada Centre will be treated to a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors when they take their seats on Thursday.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Toronto Raptors
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, December 8, 2016
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
|503||MINNESOTA||-8 (-110)||215.5 (-110)||250
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, Sportsnet (Toronto)
PREDICTION: Raptors 112, Timberwolves 103
Oddsmakers currently have the Raptors listed as 8-point favorites versus the Timberwolves, while the game’s total has not yet been posted.
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors and the Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off losses to two of the NBA’s powerhouses.
The Raptors lost 116-112 to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday and the Timberwolves lost 105-91 to the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.
Minnesota and Toronto play Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre.
The Raptors (14-7) hope to finish a six-game homestand with a win, which would give them a 5-1 record during that span as well as seven wins in their past eight games overall.
The Wolves (6-15) will try to prevent the kind of second-half fade they had against the Spurs.
The Timberwolves led after the first half against the Spurs but were outscored 29-18 in the third quarter as they failed to carry their first-half defense into the second half.
Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau approved of the way his team played in the first half. The Timberwolves held the Spurs to a season-low 19 points in the first quarter.
“I thought our shell was tight, I thought we challenged shots well, I thought we got back in transition well,” Thibodeau said. “(In the third quarter) we just got outplayed in every aspect. …
“In the second half, you have to have discipline. You have to stick with your team, you have to understand what your job is, then you have to do your job. When you randomly make it up, the results aren’t going to be good. That’s where we need to grow and improve.”
One bright spot from Tuesday for Minnesota was the play of rookie point guard Kris Dunn, who came off the bench to score 15 points in 17 minutes on 6-for-7 shooting.
“Kris is playing really well,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a good sign.”
The Raptors had their six-game winning streak stopped by the Cavaliers, who have defeated Toronto in their three games this season. The NBA champions defeated the Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry took an elbow to the face during the first quarter on Monday and required treatment but returned before the opening stanza had been completed and scored 24 points and had nine assists.
Raptors coach Dwane Casey talked about the mental part of the game after the loss.
“I thought our guys competed,” Casey said. “But now we have to put the mental part within the game.”
Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas scored four points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Cavaliers but struggled enough that he did not play the fourth quarter with his backup, Lucas Nogueira, playing only four minutes and Patrick Patterson and Terrene Ross each playing the full 12 minutes.
Starting power forward Pascal Siakam also did not play in the fourth quarter.
In the past five games, Valanciunas has averaged six points and 7.4 rebounds.
“Jonas is fine,” Casey said. “It’s a matchup league.
“I thought Lucas did a little bit better job of guarding (Channing) Frye, which is a hard matchup for any (center) in the league, not just Jonas and Lucas. He’s really a four playing the five and that’s why we decided to go small, that kind of got us going a little bit toward the end but, again, you give up something.”
The Raptors are 8-4 at home. The Timberwolves are 3-8 on the road.