Perhaps we should not be getting ahead of ourselves, or checking our box scores before they've been filled, or some other tired idiom. The Raptors are playing in their fifth and final game of a road trip tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks. They've clawed their way to 2-2 and are coming off a strong win over a freewheeling Houston Rockets squad. A positive five-gamer would be nice, one with more wins than losses, but it would also be nice to just have it over and done with.
The Bucks are 6-7 on the season and the kind of team that can monkey wrench your plans if you're not careful. The experiment, or whatever you'd like to call it, in Milwaukee hasn't quite gone according to plan -- the fifth seed they held two years ago has evaporated into a mishmash of long limbs and troublesome injuries. Still, Giannis. Good lord, Giannis! He's the kind of player -- still just 21 years old (somehow), averaging 21.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.2 blocks, and shooting 49 percent from the field -- who'll have you searching the skies for an answer.
The Raptors meanwhile may -- let me lower my voice here -- may be cooking a little bit. The Rockets game saw them do a whole bunch of interesting things. Coach Dwane Casey managed to lower Kyle Lowry's minutes without having the world implode. Jonas Valanciunas was looked for and found on offense to great effect. DeMar DeRozan had nine assists. And there were pronounced signs of life from Cory Joseph and, perhaps most importantly, DeMarre Carroll.
As will be the case more often than not this season, the Raptors head into this game the better team on paper. The Bucks can run and jump and toss their limbs out all they want, it should not be enough to stop Toronto. Even a Toronto team looking to just finish up and get home, finally.
But then again, that's why they play the games.
So read our preview from Harsh Dave, and then settle in on this Friday night for Raptors vs. Bucks. We'll be watching.