They went and done did it again. Last night, the Raptors lost to the Chicago Bulls for the ninth straight time, a 109-107 affair equally as wild and dispiriting as the three Chicago-Toronto games that preceded it.
Lucky for us, the Raptors have shown remarkable resolve this season after disappointing losses, with a couple noticeable bounce backs coming after losses to Chicago - the 34-point DeMar DeRozan outing against the Wizards on December 30 and the defensive clinic against the Grizzlies on February 21. Not to say that beating the Chicago Bulls wouldn't be a beauteous and wondrous event, but for the most part this season, it hasn't translated into a full-fledged slide.
So bring on the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. As Russell Peddle outlined in his excellent game preview, Giannis Antetokounmpo has raised his game significantly since the All-Star break, bringing up the performance of his teammates along with his own. Handling their new starting lineup, which sees Jason Kidd taking full advantage of his three lengthy killers in Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton, will be the primary test for the Raptors who have seen the most slippage defensively - DeRozan, Luis Scola, Terrence Ross, and James Johnson.
They've been up to the task this season - the Bucks have not been a threat to the Raptors in any of their matchups - but tonight might be the toughest of the bunch. It's on a back-to-back, the Bucks are playing a little better, and there's lingering injury question marks.
As reported earlier, Jonas Valanciunas will not play with a left hand contusion. There's also been some talk that DeRozan or Kyle Lowry might sit out after combining for 80 minutes last night, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. We'll keep you updated in the comments if anything changes.
So with that bit of news, Toronto is here with an opportunity to right the ship. You don't get to 44 wins in mid-March without showing the ability to bounce back and, so far this season, the Raptors have answered the bell. Let's get to the comments and see how they do tonight.