After a handful of games in an eerily empty Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Raptors head on the road to face the NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks tonight. They’ve won their last three games and hope to keep it going tonight against a strong Bucks team.
December was rough for the Raptors, with several games postponed and nearly every player on the roster entering Health and Safety protocols — but they seem to be turning things around? It’s been a treat to see the core players all healthy for what feels like the first time in forever, and the results so far have been fun to watch.
They face the 25-14 (currently third in the East) Bucks, who won six in a row before losing their last game to Detroit. The standings aren’t anything to take too seriously at the moment though — only two games separate the 9th seed Raptors and the 5th seed 76ers. With the landscape of the NBA changing everyday, the East is still wide open.
Where to Watch:
Sportsnet, 8:00PM ET
Toronto – Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby
Toronto — Yuta Watanabe, Svi Mykhailiuk (health and safety protocols – out), David Johnson (calf – out), Goran Dragic (personal – out)
Milwaukee — Jordan Nwora, Semi Ojeleye, Thanasis Antetokuonmpo (health and safety protocols – questionable), Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton (health and safety protocols – out), Donte DiVincenzo (ankle – out), Brook Lopez (back – out)
All Star Freddy
Fred VanVleet has been on an absolute tear, and if you’re rooting for him to make the NBA All-Star game, this comes at the perfect time. Yesterday against San Antonio, VanVleet broke a franchise record for most 3PM over a five-game span (30), and has scored more than 30 points in his last three games.
Expect Fred to continue this hot streak in Milwaukee, bringing his veteran presence to the court and leading the team by example. If you’re not on the Fred VanVleet is an NBA All-Star bandwagon yet — what are you doing?!
Rookies on Fire
Scottie Barnes has been impressive since the beginning of the season, topping Rookie of the Year standings and continuing to improve. He currently averages 15.5 PPG, 8.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game — not bad for someone who wasn’t supposed to be a shooter.
Another rookie currently making a splash is Justin Champagnie, who has proven himself to be a key member of the bench rotation in recent appearances. After nearly getting the game-winning basket a few weeks back (it didn’t end up counting), he has continued to bring energy. In last night’s win against the Spurs, he hit three shots in a row from beyond the arc, something very much needed from our bench players.
Pascal Siakam is doing... Pascal Siakam things, which isn’t surprising at all. He’d scored at least 20 points in his four appearances before last night’s game, only missing that mark by two points at 18 for the night.
What has been fun to watch these past few games though? Pascal dishing out dimes! Since returning from Health and Safety Protocols on December 28, Siakam has had no less than five assists in each game.
While some of that was definitely to make up for Fred VanVleet being out at the time, it’s incredibly entertaining to see Pascal not only find his own looks, but help his teammates out as well.
This iteration of the current Raptors is something we haven’t really had the chance to see (or judge) this year — what with injuries and then COVID delaying when the whole team would finally play together.
It seems that it may be New Year, New Raptors going forward — watch tonight to see if the team can get the W against Giannis and Milwaukee.