The dismal Milwaukee Bucks, unhappy owners of the NBA’s worst record, visit the Air Canada Centre hoping to prevent the Toronto Raptors from sweeping all 4 games between them this season. The Bucks season has caromed between the rock of disappointing play, and the hard place of a rash of injuries. If Brandon Knight, their leading scorer, can’t play because of a hip problem, the Bucks may struggle to produce the NBA minimum number of players. They dressed eight in their latest loss, at Washington. The Raps were short-handed, and hard-pressed, to sneak by the Bucks by four points recently, but have no excuses this night. Thanks to the Knicks defeat of the Bulls, Toronto is back in the #3 playoff seed and can’t be bumped if they win tonight and Wednesday in New York. That’s more than enough motivation.
I won’t spend a lot of time discussing the Bucks roster. What’s left of it lacks size and scoring. Their listed starters average 45+ Points Per Game, combined, while the Raps starters are at 73+ PPG. If the real Amir Johnson shows up to help out Jonas Valanciunas, the Raps should own the boards. Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as starting – he’s 19, a rookie, and learning on the job. In a deeper organization, he’d be playing 40 minutes a game in the D-League. Ramon Sessions, a decent backup guard, starts at the point. The Bucks have no bench.
The Raps should roll over the Bucks, and will if they:
- run, and don’t stop. A threadbare lineup like the Bucks is going to run out of gas. DeMar DeRozan should be leaking out on the fast break as soon as a Buck shot goes up.
- use the power of a deep rotation. The Raps can throw a quality second unit at the Bucks. NBA coaches want their bench guys to hold the lead, or not get further in the hole, while the starters are resting. In this game, our bench guys are at least as strong as their starters, and should pound Milwaukee’s bench (such as it is). If Greivis Vasquez continues to show a hot hand from distance, it might get ugly.
- Establish the low post game. While the Raps’ success has been built on the 3-ball, JV has come into his own lately as a scorer. John Henson (Zaza Pachulia is listed as starting – only coach Larry Drew knows why) shows promise both as a defender and scorer, but JV can take him in the block. If a shot’s not there, kick the ball back outside.
The Raps haven’t had any blowouts, so it’s about time. Toronto 111 – Milwaukee 87.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.