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Bucks vs. Raptors Preview: Bucks try to topple Toronto for first time since 2014-15

.500 is back within reach!

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

After a lackluster start against the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee pulled ahead late to win 93-89 behind the Atlas-like efforts of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who nearly posted a triple-double and 5x5 with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, five steals and three blocks. Toronto, meanwhile, sits at 9-6 and fourth in the East after a 115-102 victory over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night. The teams will square off tonight at 7:00 PM with an alternate court for Milwaukee’s first Fear the Deer night of the season.

Bucks Update

While Giannis grabbed headlines with a box score stretching longer than his last name, Jabari Parker may’ve had the more important development against the Magic. Parker nailed five of seven three pointers, rocking off attempts like he’d been doing it his whole career. Parker becoming a consistent threat from outside would be a game-changer, opening up the floor even further for Giannis and furthering his own shot equity (copyright Brett Koremenos).

Matthew Dellavedova looked like a middle schooler getting bullied by Elfrid Payton all night, coughing the ball up six times but redeeming himself late in the fourth with a clutch three. Kyle Lowry is a similarly pesky defender, so the Bucks are hoping this was just a momentarily lapse by the Aussie.

Meanwhile, in smallball land, Jason Kidd continued a growing trend of starting the fourth with Giannis as the nominal center. Once again, the Bucks found some rapid success, starting the quarter on a 14-2 run. Its effectiveness eventually wore down, but Kidd seems to be enamored with smallball spurts at the moment. And we all know Kidd loves to stick with something that’s working...sometimes for just a little too long. This far though, in 40 minutes with Giannis on the floor without any of the salary cap-sucking center trio, the Bucks have a +11 net rating per NBAwowy.

Greg Monroe played only eight minutes against the Magic. So that continues to be a thing. Toronto generally plays with traditional centers on the floor, so in theory there wouldn’t be a matchup excuse not to play Monroe. It appears this may be the new reality though, so let’s all try to enjoy watching Henson finally getting a chance to strut his stuff as a starter, even though his abysmal net rating continues to erupt in flames faster than a gas canister.

Raptors Update

Toronto’s been all DeMar DeRozan, all the time this year. The 7th year player has started hotter than Grandma’s oven on Thanksgiving morning. His 30+point outbursts to start the season put him in elite company, and what’s most impressive is that he’s averaging his 30.5 pts/game while only 8.5 percent of his shots are threes. Despite harvesting normally inefficient shots, he’s still posting a respectable 49.9% effective field goal percentage. He had 24 points and nine assists in their victory over the Rockets.

His partner, Kyle Lowry, is off to a slower start, but still posting nearly 20 points per game. He’s only shooting 39.4% on the year, albeit while chucking up seven three point attempts a game. Beyond the two stalwarts, perhaps most surprising has been the adequate play of rookie Pascal Siakim, who’s stepped into the power forward spot while Jared Sullinger’s been injured. Although there’s little in the way of an offensive game, Siakim’s length has been a welcome addition to Toronto’s defensive efforts. Tonight will be another good test for him against Milwaukee’s formidable frontcourt.

Toronto normally plays with a traditional center, boasting a trio of Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira who make up the most often misspelled frontcourt in the league. They also aren’t a dynamic offensive crew or defensive dynamos, with Jakob Poeltl as the only one allowing opponents to shoot below 50% at the rim (44%).

Toronto’s defensive has fallen from 11th last year to 21st so far, and the Bucks are hoping that drop will help them beat Toronto for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Jared Sullinger and Delon Wright are the only guys missing for Toronto.

On the Raptors: Raptors HQ | Raptors Republic