Raptors vs. Bucks | 37th annual MACC Fund game closes out preseason

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On the heels of their first win of the preseason against the Knicks on Wednesday, the Bucks close out the exhibition season at home against the Toronto Raptors.

2013 NBA Preseason
Mil_medium
(1-5, 1-1 home)
vs.
Tor
(6-1, 2-0 road)
October 25, 2013
BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI
7:30 CT
No Local  | 620 WTMJ / Audio League Pass
Probable Starters
Brandon Knight PG Kyle Lowry
O.J. Mayo SG DeMar DeRozan
Caron Butler SF Rudy Gay
Khris Middleton PF Amir Johnson
Larry Sanders C Jonas Valanciunas
2012/13 Advanced Stats
94.7 (3rd) Pace 90.4 (24th)
103.6 (22nd) ORtg 105.9 (13th)
105.2 (12th) DRtg 107.5 (21st)

Linkage | Raptors HQ | Raptors RepublicBucks Game Notes | Raptors Game Notes

For the 37th year in a row, the highlight of the preseason will come at home and support a terrific cause: Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer. If you're in town be sure to grab a ticket--nothing better than watching basketball and helping kids with cancer, right?

Raptors update. Like the Bucks, the Raptors will likely spend the coming season thrashing around the middle of the Eastern Conference, battling it out with the likes of Atlanta, Cleveland, and Washington for the oddly coveted 6-8 seeds. And as long as you're down with that, the news for Toronto thus far is so far, so good.

Dwane Casey's bunch has rolled up six wins in seven preseason tries, with their trio of high-flying wings piling up points in surprisingly efficient fashion. That's right: Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and sophomore reserve Terrence Ross are all averaging north of 1.3 points per shot in the preseason, figures that would blow away their previous season bests. Odds are those numbers are due for some mean regression, but the bottom line is that they've scored very effectively over the past few weeks, with DeRozan in particular appearing to elevate his game in the first year of his four year, $38 million contract.

Add in the utilitarian appeal of Kyle Lowry and a rugged frontline featuring Jonas Valanciunas, Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough, and you have an intriguing team that could challenge for a playoff spot or be easily blown apart should new GM Masai Ujiri decide he wants to discard one or both of his high-paid starting wings. Toronto was last seen lighting up the Grizzlies 108-72 at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday and open up the regular season on Wednesday at home against Boston, at which point we'll start getting answers to the many questions facing the Raptors this year. Can Toronto's offense exploit the athleticism of DeRozan and Gay rather than fall victim to their ball-stopping tendencies? Will Valanciunas break out like many expect him to? Can Casey reinvigorate Toronto's defense?

Over the hump. After throwing away late leads against the Bobcats and Grizzlies, the Bucks mercifully claimed their first win of the season Wednesday against the Knicks in Green Bay. And as much as we want this to be a team that's all about building through youth, it was mostly the vets who got the big minutes and made the plays against New York. Caron Butler and O.J. Mayo were extremely effective (46 points on 27 shots), Gary Neal shot reasonably well (15 points on 12 shots) and Luke Ridnour game managed his way to 11 assists and 18 points. As for the youngsters? Brandon Knight was resting a sore hamstring, Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't take a shot in 12 minutes, and small-ball starter Khris Middleton was scoreless in 16 minutes. On the plus side, John Henson flashed some nice high-low action with Zaza Pachulia and Larry Sanders grabbed key rebounds down the stretch, reminding us that the Bucks won't win games without some contributions from their younger players.

Regardless of who was doing the work, the more important factor for Larry Drew was how they were doing it: passing, attacking and avoiding the Monta Ball stuff that didn't work a year ago. Charles Gardner reports:

"That's exactly what I wanted to see," Drew said of ball movement that resulted in 26 assists and 52% field goal shooting against the Knicks.

"We can't play one-on-one, isolation basketball. That ball has to swing; it has to hop. I told our guys, 'If we put up any kind of a defensive stand and if our assist total is anywhere in the middle 20s, our chances of winning those games are going to be very good.'"

Injury update. No word yet on the availability of Knight, though we already know Ersan Ilyasova, Carlos Delfino and Ekpe Udoh will not be available. We'll post any updates right here.

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