In Friday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Raptors apparent deficiencies came to a head, as Kawhi Leonard tried to lead an otherwise mostly-struggling roster to the promised land, as the team lost 106-105 in overtime.
No time to warm up against another bad opponent, though — certainly not during this tough stretch. The Raptors are home again, yes, but they prepare to take on the Milwaukee Bucks and burgeoning MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks come in 16-8 and third in the East, as the Raptors look for another statement win at 21-6 against a good team.
The matchup everyone’s here to see is Giannis versus Kawhi, as the two superstars will surely spend a significant time guarding each other in important moments. You’d also expect Pascal Siakam to play a role, as coach Nick Nurse has given him a superstar assignment a few times already this season.
For Raptors fans, though, seeing some other players step up would be a welcome sight. A few successive threes for Kyle Lowry, maybe, or a statement bench performance from Fred VanVleet or Delon Wright. It seemed like the Brooklyn loss took some air out of the fanbase, but seeing some role players step up would be very reassuring.
Some other updates ahead of this one: it would appear that Norman Powell will not return soon, certainly during this road trip, as he isn’t travelling with the team. Nick Nurse announced before the game that he is progressing slower than expected with a dislocated shoulder.
Nurse doesn't expect Powell (shoulder) to return during the upcoming 4-game road trip. They had thought he was further along but his progress has stalled a bit recently. Nurse wouldn't call it a setback though.— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) December 9, 2018
On the Bucks side, a three-team trade with Cleveland and Washington earlier this week brought them George Hill from the Cavs and Jason Smith from the Wizards; the move that unloaded some of their depth and draft picks for a win-now-and-convince-Giannis-to-stay move. While the two weren’t expected to go through their physicals until tomorrow, they are reported to be out there and warming up — maybe even as you’re reading this! As such, neither will start, but they are game-time decisions to play.
Now, let’s get to the comments.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 6:00 PM EST
Toronto: Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka
Milwaukee: Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Toronto: Norman Powell (dislocated shoulder)
Milwaukee: George Hill (questionable - joining team), Jason Smith (questionable - joining team)