1. Generate, take (and make!) three-pointers
The Raptors and Bucks are trending in weird directions right now in this, the most modern and necessary of statistics. Both teams are not taking very many threes -- the Bucks are last in the post-season, the Raps 10th -- but Milwaukee is second in percentage (41%) while the Raptors are 13th. Not great, Bob.
Despite this statistical evidence, the Raptors have to continue to find shooters on the perimeter. Their offense has long been based in part on DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry generating shots for themselves or others, and a key part of that is hitting dudes for 3s. Now, it would be nice if DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Serge Ibaka, Cory Joseph and the like actually hit the 3s that open up for them, but at the very least: they've got to let fly.
2. Stick with the rotation that works
Who will play for the Raptors tonight? There are ten names who could conceivably see action, and that seems like two too many for an appropriate playoff rotation.
The move to start Norman Powell seems to have paid off for the Raptors, with Jonas Valanciunas checking in off the bench to deal with the bulk of Greg Monroe. Delon Wright has found a modest purpose, though pairing him with Joseph seems like a disaster. And Carroll of course has, uh, not played well. There's also the curious case of Patterson who played a mere seven minutes in Game 4. Coach Dwane Casey has said all of these things are situational, to which I'll say, fair enough. But it seems like the Raptors should just play their best eight players and be done with it.
3. Slow the pace, but don't slow the action
I want to clarify this one specifically. The Raptors do not want this game to get reckless because any sort of speed favours the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a spirit from another plane when he gets running and no mere mortal can match him. So yeah, the Raptors want to control the pace.
But, that doesn't mean they should wait 15 seconds of every shot clock to get into their offensive seats. Attack the Bucks, make them scramble on D, and try not to get stuck firing up the last shot as the clock expires.
4. Win the Star Battle
This one is obvious, but for the Raptors (and the Bucks) it is the most important. When Lowry and DeRozan play well, Toronto wins. When Giannis and Khris Middleton can run wild, the Bucks win. I don't have to split that atom here. That's the real story. And we've heard tell that both Lowry and Middleton will play despite dealing with ailments (illness for Middleton, back soreness for Lowry).
To get an even stronger grasp on things, check out my preview from earlier today. Then, deep breath, let's get to it.