Milwaukee Bucks (0-2) at Raptors (2-0): 3 keys to victory


The Milwaukee Bucks visit the Air Canada Centre to face the Toronto Raptors today at suppertime. It’s absurdly early in the season to be calling this game a must-win for the Bucks – or is it?

Milwaukee was many analysts’ choice as a team ready to make a big move up the standings, and there’s certainly lots of time for that to occur. However, Bucks’ fans have to be concerned about whiffing their first two games, particularly considering the teams they lost to, the Knicks and Wizards, aren’t powerhouses.

The Bucks are struggling with their defense. They won’t beat anyone allowing an average of 120 points per game, as they have done, and the Raptors have enough firepower to put up that kind of a number. Milwaukee hasn’t started the year in good health, as useful players like John Henson, a rebounder and rim protector, and guards O.J. Mayo, Tyler Ennis and Jabari Parker are all out. By contrast, the Raptors have no injuries reported.

The Bucks are the second-youngest team in the NBA, so aren’t likely to suffer fatigue, despite their shorthandedness.

Long and beefy Greg Monroe came over from the Detroit Pistons in the off-season as Milwaukee’s splashy free-agent signing, and has shown he can put up points as a Buck. My issue with him has always been his languid demeanour on D.

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Oct 28, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Greg Monroe (15) during the game against the New York Knicks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the world’s tallest point guard since Magic Johnson, will give the Raptors all manner of difficulty. He’s a do-it-all player about 3 years away from his prime. When he gets there, he’s going to be an All-Star.

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The Raptors will greatly enhance their chances of winning if they…:

  1. …continue to crash the boards. They have outrebounded opponents 103 to 78 so far, and face a team ranked 27th in this critical stat. The Raptors look better this season at getting their bodies in front of their men, which frees up Jonas Valanciunas. He ranks fifth in the league with 12.5 rebounds per game, and there’s no earthly reason he can’t remain in the top ten all season.
  2. …attack, don’t settle, on offense. Young teams like the Bucks are vulnerable to late-clock breakdowns on D. I expect to see a lot of backdoor cuts, some alley-oops (get Terrence Ross involved!), DeMar DeRozan’s patented drive & kick. The Raptors can drive these kids crazy with different looks.
  3. …transition from offense to defense quickly. The Raptors will need to get back in a hurry, as the young Bucks want to run.

[all stats courtesy of ]

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The Raptors are at home against a struggling team, so the winning continues. Toronto 116 – Milwaukee 105.