The Raptors, after a hellish schedule to start the season, stand 9-6, and are one game away from starting a lengthy home-stand that should afford some rest and recuperation for some tired legs. Before that though, they finish this road trip in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks.
The Bucks are 6-7, and having lost Khris Middleton for the entire season, look to have slim hopes of making the playoffs. This looks like a team that can be a real threat when healthy — I’m just unconvinced that it’ll happen this season. They also haven’t played since Monday so they’ll come into this game fresh and ready.
Things to watch:
Who is stopping Giannis
Late last season, the Bucks unleashed Giannis Antetokounmpo as a lead ball handler and the results have been scary. Tasked with the responsibility of prime Andrei Kirilenko, he’s become a matchup nightmare for any team. Now nearly 7-feet tall, he initiates the offence for Milwaukee, while serving as a rim-protector in no-Center lineups. He’s a monster, and while he can’t shoot well yet, he’s a force to be reckoned with based on size, length and athleticism alone.
Which version of the bench will we see?
The Raptors have had some struggles finding bench production at times this season. While Terrence Ross has been reasonably dependent, Lucas Nogueira, Cory Joseph, and Patrick Patterson have all had inconsistent starts to the season. Against the Rockets on Wednesday, the Raptors put forth their most complete effort of the season, thanks in part to the crucial 37 bench points. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are known entities at this point, but having a solid bench effort usually ensures the Raptors end up with a W on game night.
Jonas Valanciunas should feast
Clint Capela has had a very solid start to the season defensively, but Valanciunas absolutely worked him and the rest of the Rockets front court rotation in the post. Valanciunas has his deficiencies, but scoring in the post against all kinds of Centers isn’t one of them. The Bucks have almost removed Greg Monroe from the rotation and if they hope to guard JV with some combination of Mirza Teletovic, John Henson, and Miles Plumlee, it could be a big night for Valanciunas.
Start time: 8 PM EST, Sportsnet One