at Toronto Raptors, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Scotiabank Arena
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Today's line: Wolves by 1.5.
Pregame reading: Aaron Rodgers famously took a "darkness retreat" several months ago. Wolves center Rudy Gobert followed him to the same place. Read about Rudy's experience, and his thoughts on the season ahead right here.
For the fans: Former Apple Valley product Gary Trent Jr. will be entering his fourth season with the Raptors. He averaged 17.4 points per game last season.
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Chris Hine's preview:
Opening bell: Pascal Siakam will pose an interesting challenge for the Wolves' two-big defense, since not a lot of teams around the league run their offense through their power forward. Coach Chris Finch might deploy a lot of Kyle Anderson against Siakam with Jaden McDaniels out. The Raptors, who finished ninth in the East last season (41-41), lost Fred VanVleet in free agency to the Rockets and will have to replace his production in the starting lineup.
Injuries: McDaniels, who just signed a new big-money contract, will miss the Wolves' opener because of a calf injury that kept him out of all but one of the Wolves' preseason games. He did work out during and after practice Monday, however, so he's considered day to day. The Wolves' second game is Saturday, their home opener vs. Miami. For Toronto, reserve center Christian Koloko is out because of an illness.
Watch him: Scottie Barnes, NBA Rookie of the Year for 2021-22, will take on more responsibilities and more of the scoring load now that VanVleet left. Barnes averaged 15.3 points in each of his first two seasons, but expect his usage to increase.
Forecast: The Wolves have looked much more cohesive this preseason than they did a season ago, when they finished 42-40 and claimed the eighth seed in the West. They closed last season playing some of their best basketball — Anthony Edwards, especially — before injuries affected their playoff run. All signs point to them getting off to a good start this season and they could and probably should come away with a win Wednesday night.
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