Toronto Raptors end regular season with convincing 120-100 win over Timberwolves
The Raptors look confident, healthy and playoff ready. Now all that remains is the question of who they will face.
It was once against Kawhi Leonard who was the star of the show. He recorded 20 points as the Raptors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 120-100 to end their regular season with a victory.
Speaking after the win, Leonard said: “I think all of us want to win, get to that promised land. That’s a great group of guys here that are unselfish, want to win, want to play defence, want to do the right things on the floor.”
Meanwhile, Fred VanVleet scored 16 points, and Chris Boucher recorded a career-best 15 points and 13 rebounds from the bench. The Raptors finished the regular season at 58-24. Meaning they will be second seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs; and will face either Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, or Orlando Magic in the opening round.
VanVleet was pleased with the season so far. He recalled: “Since I’ve been in the league these last three years, we’ve been one of the top teams in the league, top teams in the East.
“There’s a lot that comes with that. You should take pride in that.”
Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins both scored 16 points for the Timberwolves. They were playing without their All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns. It was Dieng who replaced their star centre; it was his first start since April 2017.
Dieng said: “Starting or playing from the bench, it doesn’t matter to me. I want to play and help the team. I think it’s good that I get to use this playing time.”
The Raptors went on a 20-5 streak over the course of the final five minutes of the second quarter. Ensuring they went into half time with a 69-47 lead.
Unfortunately for the Timberwolves they never managed to get any closer than 15 points throughout the second half. Furthermore, the Raptors led by as many as 32 in the final periods.
Coach of the Timberwolves Ryan Saunders said: “I looked at little things and after that big second quarter from them, we started trying to, ‘OK, let’s win the next quarter,’ and we did. We won the first quarter, so those were positives to us. But ultimately, we didn’t do enough things to be in the game at the end.”
Boucher recorded 11 points in ten minutes during the second quarter. Previously Boucher’s career best was the nine points he scored against the Orlando Magic in December.
The 26-year-old signed his standard contract with the Raptors in February, after being recognised as the Defensive Player of the year and G-League’s MVP.
“I just want to play,” Boucher said. “When you get in the game, play hard, good things happen.”
Toronto ended their season with a franchise record of 26 road victories this season.
Meanwhile, the Raptors were missing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka; who were rested, and Patrick McCaw, who is suffering from a sprained thumb.
But Nick Nurse is optimistic heading into the playoffs. He said: “I think we’re about as healthy as we could be. I think it was nice to get Serge and Kyle a night tonight.”