Toronro Raptors Roundup: Do the Raptors Need to Make a Move To Beat the Bucks?

Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kawhi Leonard (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors Roundup is a weekly segment where we fill you in on all the games, highlights and stories from last week. Here’s what you missed from the sixteenth week of the season.

A few things have become apparent after the loss to the Bucks on Thursday. First, Nick Nurse will not be coaching the Eastern Conference All-Star team. That honour will go to Mike Budenholzer of Milwaukee. Second, the Raps have given up home court advantage to the Bucks. Considering that Milwaukee looks to be one of two or three teams that stand in Toronto’s path to the NBA Finals, this development is not insignificant.

Most importantly, the Raptors seem unable to beat a very good Bucks team. They looked outmatched and unready to play the Greek Freak and Co. Toronto’s starters, specifically Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard, still look they need more time playing together to develop a sense of cohesion and chemistry, which will be needed to match up against a really good, really tough, well coached squad. It is becoming more and more apparent that some kind of move, whether it be a trade before the deadline or an addition via buyout after February 7, may be necessary for the Raptors in what can only be described as a boom or bust year.

A key area of concern has to be Toronto’s three-point shooting which is now officially on life support. The Raptors are shooting 35 percent from deep which puts them at a disappointing 19th in the league. In four games (1-3) against the Bucks this year, they’re shooting 20, 34, 45 and 26 percent. In that same stretch, the Bucks are shooting nearly 40 percent against Toronto.

C.J. Miles, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry have all had disappointing seasons shooting the three. Only Leonard and Danny Green have come close to or have met expectations from deep, in what was supposed to be a strength coming into the season. If the Raptors hope to make their way to the NBA Finals, they must improve significantly from beyond the arc. It may be getting a little late in the season to hope for a dramatic improvement to come from within, though that would be the easiest and quickest way to solve the problem. For Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster, they must be feeling pressure to make a move to put an end to the three-point shooting drought.

Game Recap

Milwaukee at Toronto

In a nationally televised game in the US, the Milwaukee Bucks rose to the occasion and showed why they are the number one team in the East as well and why they deserve to be atop the NBA standings. The Toronto Raptors played arguably one of their most disappointing games of the year and looked completely out of sorts in a 105-92 loss. Their starters were thoroughly outmatched by the Bucks and looked desperate for some chemistry. What might be most concerning is that the game came after three days of rest and plenty of practice.

Said Nurse when asked of his starting five’s lack of consistency:

"“I certainly like those guys as individual pieces. Maybe it’s a group thing, I don’t know. I’ve got to take a look at it and think about it again. It seems to be coming and going a little bit."

The Raptors shooting woes from deep continued as they managed just seven from downtown on 27 attempted. The Raptors are now hovering around 35 percent from downtown which puts them in the bottom third in efficiency. The Bucks took advantage spotting a twenty point lead in the third quarter. Any run the Raptors tried to mount was quashed by excellent three-point shooting from Milwaukee.

The Raptors have lost the season series to the Bucks, giving up home-court advantage. The good news? They don’t have to play them anymore this season.

Los Angeles at Toronto

Toronto entered the game losing three of four, including a disappointing loss to the Bucks. The Raptors would also have to play without Kyle Lowry who was out again, resting a lower back injury. However, the Raptors put together a better effort with a nice bounce-back victory 121-103 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Superbowl Sunday.

The Raptors had five players in double digits, including Serge Ibaka who continued his good play with his sixth straight double-double, hitting 16 points shooting six of nine from the field. Ibaka also pulled in 12 rebounds including seven on the defensive end. Fred VanVleet filled in nicely for the ailing Lowry dropping nine points and seven assists. He also had three steals.

The game was never really in doubt, as the Raptors pulled away in the second quarter with a strong effort. The Raptors are now 38-16 (21-5 at home) trailing the Bucks by a game and a half.

The Week Ahead

Toronto at Philadelphia

The Sixers are currently in third in the East, just a game ahead of the Celtics and three behind Toronto. They are 7-3 in their last ten which includes wins against the Warriors, Lakers, and Rockets. Simmons, Embiid, and Butler are all well above 20 PER, with Embiid hovering around 26.

Toronto at Atlanta

Toronto visits the 17-35 Hawks on Thursday night. The Raptors are 2-0 against the Hawks this year with their last game being closer than Toronto would have liked. Both John Collins and Jeremy Lin had strong and efficient games against the Raptors. Rookie Trae Young scored an inefficient 19 points on 8 for 20 shooting.

Next. Who on Toronto is most likely to be dealt?. dark

Toronto at New York

The Raptors visit the Garden on Saturday night against the 10-42 tire fire that is the New York Knicks. Knicks fans hope things may be changing though with this week’s events. The franchise is clearly making space to make some significant additions this coming offseason. The trade of Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks has Knicks fans salivating at the possibility of bringing in star free agents such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or even Kawhi Leonard. New Knick Dennis Smith Jr has a lot of promise and potential ahead while expiring contracts DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews are doubtful to be on the team next year, if not the remainder of this year.