After narrowly losing in Washington, the Raptors head home to contest the Milwaukee Bucks. Sasha Kalra previews the action...The Toronto Raptors are returning home from their 2 game road trip after a couple of very hard fought losses. They now open up an abnormally-long 7 games in a row at home. These 7 games will have a significant impact on where the ping pong balls fall this off-season. Whether you are a tanking enthusiast or a traditionalist, upcoming home games against the Lakers, Knicks, Spurs and Celtics offer chances to see what certain members of this team are capable of.
It all starts tonight with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks lost narrowly against Phoenix last night and will be looking to bounce back. They live and die with the play of Brandon Jennings and have been sorely missing the inside presence of Andrew Bogut. Controversy never seems a step too far from Stephen Jackson and he has found himself playing limited minutes as some guy named Carlos Delfino (remember him?) is keeping him out of the rotation.
When compared to the rest of the upcoming matches on the schedule, this game looks very winnable. Whether or not that is good news is up to you, so here are the 3 keys to a Raptors win:
1) Fast Start: The Raptors got off to yet another slow start against the Wizards and found themselves down by 10 points after the 1st quarter. To their credit the team managed to fight back and force overtime against a team that isn't exactly built to manage such leads. If they want to beat a well-coached Bucks team the Raptors need to get off to a quicker start tonight in front of their home fans.
2) Offensive Rebounding: The Milwaukee Bucks have gone from being of the better rebounding teams in the association to one of the worst. The discrepancy is particularly highlighted in how they managed to go from 8th to 26th in defensive rebounding rate. Add in the loss of Andrew Bogut, and one can only hope that Ed Davis, Amir Johnson and Aaron Gray are going to be fighting for those offensive boards to help create second chance points.
3) Point Guards: With Bogut out and Jackson in the doghouse, the offensive onus falls on young Brandon Jennings' lean shoulders. He has shown that he can score the ball with the best of them, but there are still question marks about his turnovers, assists and defensive play. Jose Calderon and for spurts, Jerryd Bayless will have the chance to go up against Jennings tonight. If they use their penetrative abilities to make him work on defense, and pressure him into making bad decisions with the ball it will only help the Raptors' cause. Getting the ball out of his hands and forcing others to hit shots is another option if he starts to heat up.