For both the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks, at this point in the season, every game matters. For the Bucks, they’re in first place in the Eastern Conference, but it’s hardly a comfortable lead; they’re just two games up on both the surging 76ers, winners of 8 straight games, the Boston Celtics, who are struggling at the moment (for them) but could get back on track any day. Locking up that valuable one-seed, and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs, is critical.
For the Raptors, they’re also looking to grab homecourt, but in a very different way — as the 8th (or, less likely, 7th) seed in the conference. Finishing 7th or 8th gives the team a play-in game on their own court and, should they lose that game, the opportunity to play a second game to get in to the postseason.
With the Atlanta Hawks having lost to the San Antonio Spurs earlier today — a highly enjoyable fourth quarter collapse for the Hawks, who led by 24 points at one point — a Raptors win tonight will give them sole possession of that 8th seed (though the Hawks have played one fewer game than Toronto). But the Hawks have already won the season series, so if the two teams should finish with identical records, the Raptors would get the lower seed.
All of which is to say, with both the Raptors and Bucks looking to solidify their positioning, there could be a playoff-like atmosphere in Milwaukee tonight!
Lineup-wise, the Raptors are fully healthy except for Dalano Banton; the Bucks will be without Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Jae Crowder, and our old friend Goran Dragic.
Where to watch
Sportsnet, 8:00PM ET
Toronto Raptors — Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Milwaukee Bucks — Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Jrue Holiday
Toronto Raptors — Otto Porter Jr. (foot – out), Dalano Banton (thumb – out)
Milwaukee Bucks — Grayson Allen (foot – probably), Thanasis Antetokounmpo (NWT – out), Jae Crowder (calf – out), Goran Dragic (knee – out), Brook Lopez (ankle – probable)