• Things don’t get any easier for the Wolves after losing to the Hawks last night.

    After facing the worst team in the east, they play arguably the second best team in the east on the back-end of their back-to-back.

    The loss last night was frustrating to say the least and the Wolves are likely looking forward to putting it behind them no matter the next opponent. They have an opportunity to do so over a team they beat just last week without Jimmy Butler.

    They can take some solace in that they’ve already beat the Raptors once while missing key players. Now at full strength, and on top of that angry from last night, perhaps the Wolves will be a little extra motivated tonight. Of course their road record through the east is a lousy 2-7 and there are few indications of that turning around any time soon.

    The Raptors are still an overlooked team the the east, holding firm in the top-five in both offensive and defensive rating. The expanded playmaking role of DeMar DeRozan has elevated the offense to another level, while players like Serge Ibaka, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright have been key defensive players.

    Of course the backcourt dynamic between Kyle Lowry and DeRozan automatically keeps the Raptors competitive in most games. Last time out it was Lowry who exploded for 40 points and six 3-pointers.

    The Wolves did a great job of shutting down the rest of the team though. Towns got Jonas Valanciunas into significant foul trouble and took advantage of the young Poeltl who doesn’t quite have the size to stick with Towns.

    They generally had limited production off their bench as well, with only Wright stepping up, though his 12 points wasn’t quite enough.

    A complete-team defensive effort will once again be the key for the Wolves, which theoretically should become easier with Butler back in there.

    Key Matchups:

    – Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Jonas Valanciunas

    – Jimmy Butler vs. DeMar DeRozan

    Getting Jonas out of the last game early mucked up the Raptors’ big man rotation and had a ripple effect on their ideal matchup scheme. Even if they aren’t able to get him into foul trouble again, the Wolves would be wise to feed Towns the ball more. His lack of shot attempts in recent games has been quite disturbing.

    Towns can be more active in getting himself in better positions to demand the ball, but there have been a number of times where Towns is calling for the ball and doesn’t get it. In the Wolves’ loss last night to the Hawks, it’s tough not thinking if Towns got the ball just a few more times in the post the Wolves could have won easily.

    Hindsight is 20/20 but Towns is a significant matchup nightmare on most nights and will be again against Valanciunas.

    On the perimeter Butler has the opportunity to guard DeRozan and try to slow down his offense. More often than ever, the Raptors are running their offense through DeRozan and it’s been extremely beneficial for both DeMar and his teammates.

    If Butler is able to disrupt this flow, perhaps the Raptors regress to their formerly isolation-dominated offense that, while still effective, is easier to guard.

    Lineups:

    Jeff Teague – PG

    Jimmy Butler – SG

    Andrew Wiggins – SF

    Taj Gibson – PF

    Karl-Anthony Towns – C

    vs.

    Kyle Lowry – PG

    DeMar DeRozan – SG

    OG Anunoby – SF

    Serge Ibaka – PF

    Jonas Valanciunas – C

    Injuries:

    C.J. Miles (knee) – OUT

    Fred VanVleet (personal) – ACTIVE

    Where to Watch:

    7:30 ET/6:30 CT on Fox Sports North

Fantasy News

  • Mikal Bridges
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Mikal Bridges led all Suns reserves in minutes (36) on Thursday and put up 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting, to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.

    He's simply outplaying Dario Saric (five points, five rebounds, one trey, one steal, 16 minutes) right now and the extra run on the floor is paying off dividends for managers who held onto Bridges during those lean games. Pick him up if he's been dropped in your league.

  • Devin Booker
    SG, Phoenix Suns

    Devin Booker was relatively quiet on Thursday, recording 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting with five rebounds, seven assists, two treys and six turnovers in 37 minutes.

    The turnovers were a stinger for his owners in 9-cat leagues and you can credit the Pelicans' feisty defense for more than a few of those. Count it as an off-night for Booker and move on. He should bounce-back to his top-30 form in no time.

  • Tyler Johnson
    PG-SG, Phoenix Suns

    Tyler Johnson started for Ricky Rubio (back) on Thursday and chipped in across the board with six points, five rebounds, four dimes, one trey, two steals and two blocks.

    It was a DFS gem coming from the low-end veteran guard. He is worth streaming while Rubio remains out, but that's the ceiling of his upside in fantasy at this stage of his career.

  • Kelly Oubre Jr.
    SF, Phoenix Suns

    Kelly Oubre Jr. produced a team-high 25 points on 7-of-17 shooting from the field and 9-of-9 shooting from the line with six boards, two 3s and four assists in Thursday's loss to the Pelicans.

    Oubre is holding steady as a top-70 play in 9-cat so far this season. His ceiling is somewhere within top-50 value, but as a hot commodity, may cost you an arm and a foot for his services.

  • Jrue Holiday
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Jrue Holiday was one assist shy of a double-double on Thursday as he tallied 23 points (10-of-19 shooting), four rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, three steals and one block.

    His ability to stuff the stat sheet is at the core of Holiday's fantasy appeal. It appears he's turned the corner from a slow start. Both he and Brandon Ingram are playing well right now, but Zion Williamson could throw a wrench into the vibe once he's back on the court. Now would be an ideal time to sell-high on Holiday if you want to exit your position.

  • E'Twaun Moore
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    E'Twaun Moore chipped in 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five rebounds, three 3s and two assists in 26 minutes in Thursday's win over the Suns.

    Moore has been on the radar in 14-team leagues or deeper for his scoring and 3-point shooting as of late. He will fade as the Pelicans get healthier, but feel free to ride out his run while it lasts.

  • JJ Redick
    SG, New Orleans Pelicans

    J.J. Redick caught fire in Thursday's win over the Suns, knocking down 5-of-8 shots from deep en route to his 26 points (10-of-14 shooting) with five rebounds, two assists and one steal.

    Redick definitely has some gas left in his tank, scoring 20 points or more in four of his last five games. He's been a top-120 play in 9-cat over the season, so consider selling high now.

  • Brandon Ingram
    SF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Brandon Ingram shook off a slow start in Thursday's 124-121 win over the Suns to finish with 28 points (9-of-19 shooting), eight rebounds, five assists, three 3s, one steal and two blocks in 33 minutes.

    Ingram is back to his early-season form and delivering across the board in impressive fashion. He appears on track to sustain his production, as is, but a returning Zion Williamson could muddle things for sure.

  • Lonzo Ball
    PG, New Orleans Pelicans

    Lonzo Ball (right adductor strain) played 19 minutes off the bench in his return to action on Thursday, posting eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with two 3s, one rebound and five assists.

    Considering it was Ball's first game back in over two weeks, it was not a bad showing. He should eventually return to the starting lineup and see his minutes restriction eased and then later lifted as he gets his legs back. For now, you can bench him until he's back at full strength. Good news is the wait might not be too long.

  • Skal Labissiere
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Skal Labissiere had a huge night on Thursday with a season-high 22 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and five blocks as the Blazers lost 137-129 against the Bucks.

    Labissiere was huge partially due to Hassan Whiteside's absence, but we have to give him a lot of credit. Not only was it a season high in points for Skal, but also in rebounds and blocks. Additionally, he hit his first two 3-pointers of the season. It was an all-around gem from him and he should really be on radars going forward because of the lack of depth up front for the Blazers even when Whiteside is healthy.