The 2015-16 Toronto Raptors have put up some signature wins to this point in the season.
They've knocked off the Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers,
Philadelphia 76ers, Dallas Mavericks, and Atlanta Hawks on the road, while dispatching of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs at the Air Canada Centre.
Riding the highs of these big-time victories, it has often been the case that the Raptors let the foot off the gas in the next game and tumble to a disappointing loss. Coming off the victories over the Thunder and Mavericks, Toronto fell at the hands of the Orlando Magic. Riding high after an impressive "W" in Atlanta, they returned home and put up a dud against the Phoenix Suns.
Now it's time for the Raptors to take care of business against one of the Eastern Conference's weaker teams in the Milwaukee Bucks. Wins over squads like the Spurs only mean so much if you're handling the teams you should be defeating. We'll see if Toronto can show that killer instinct tonight.
Storylines to follow:
What version of Terrence Ross will we see?
Entering Friday's action, Ross has been mired in the worst statistical season of his NBA career. With the addition of DeMarre Carroll, Ross was predicted to improve in his role as Dwane Casey's lead scoring option off the bench. The early results were encouraging, and he was rewarded with a handsome contract extension, but the same Terrence Ross we've grown accustomed to seeing over the past three years reared his head. Inconsistency and a seeming lack of effort left fans frustrated. Then came a finger injury that sidelined the former Slam Dunk Contest champion for six games.
It was starting to look like Ross was about to fade into obscurity for good. Then opportunity came a-knockin'. It was announced Monday that Carroll will miss an indefinite amount of time with a knee contusion, opening up a starting spot for Mr. Ross. In the two starts he's made since, he's had a great game (22 points, six rebounds and four three-pointers in 38 minutes) and a quiet game (six points, three boards, zero treys in 27 minutes.) Which T-Ross will come out to play vs. Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo?
How many Toronto bench players will see the floor?
Thanks to a couple injuries forcing regular reserves into starting gigs, Casey stuck to a tight eight-man rotation against the Spurs on Wednesday. The move clearly paid off as Gregg Popovich was unable to expose the likes of Anthony Bennett and Norman Powell. However, how long will the eight regulars be able to sustain that amount of burn? Facing off with a lesser opponent, Casey can likely afford to give some of his guys a breather.
Own the glass:
As it currently stands, the Raptors and Bucks fall on opposite ends of the rebounding spectrum. Milwaukee sits 29th in the NBA with a -4.5 rebound differential while Toronto comes in at +2.5 — sixth in the league. Furthermore, Jason Kidd's group yields the second-highest amount of offensive rebounds at 12 per contest. The opportunities should be there for the Raptors to abuse their visitors on the glass and take advantage of second-chance points. Bring your Windex, Bismack Biyombo.
Where to watch: TSN 1/4/5 or listen on TSN 1050 at 7:30 p.m. ET