The players may be different, the stakes may be lower, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday evening game against the Toronto Raptors. After the Raptors exploded Milwaukee’s dreams of reaching the NBA Finals by rattling off four straight victories in the Eastern Conference Finals, this is Giannis’ and company’s first chance at revenge.
Milwaukee played its most complete game to date against the Orlando Magic in a commanding 123-91 victory down in Amway Center. After a sluggish start the Bucks rattled off a massive run heading into half before their usual third quarter cold spell. The fourth resulted in a 15-point advantage for the Bucks as they won out. Giannis finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, as Eric Bledsoe broke out of his early season slump on 18 points, and six rebounds and assists apiece. Done DiVincenzo and Sterling Brown gave a jolt off the bench as well. Orlando is no slouch defensively, ranking third in defensive rating coming into the game, so the Bucks offensive performance should provide a smidge of comfort to fans. Watch to see how Bud balances the veterans’ minutes versus Brown and DiVincenzo given Korver should be available against the Raptors.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Last Spring, Giannis spent four games trying to barrel between the unmovable object that is Kawhi Leonard. He won’t have such a formidable foe defensively this time around, but the Raptors are trusting their young stud, Pascal Siakam, with tracking the Bucks’ superstar on the defensive end of the court.
Nurse says Siakam will cover Giannis. "He's too young" to not be able to take on both ends.— (((Eeriec Koreen))) (@ekoreen) November 1, 2019
Here’s your friendly reminder that Pascal Siakam is older than Giannis. Siakam is rangy, athletic, swift, sly, all required traits on any Giannis defender’s PD, but lacks the sheer strength of The Greek Freak. We’ll see whether Siakam gets blown by, as was the case often last Spring before Nick Nurse switched Kawhi onto Antetokounmpo.
While the Bucks may be trying to drag themselves out of early season doldrums, there’s no such problem for the defending champs. Devoid of Kawhi Leonard, the rest of this Raptors squad has picked up right where their winning ways left off last season. They’ve turned the reins over to their newly maxed Pascal Siakam, whose responded by averaging 30 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per-36 minutes. He’s sporting a Superstar level 32.6% usage at the moment, but remains surrounded by supreme competency in Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, an emerging OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet, the man who Fatherhood has never treated better. They’ve polished off some mediocre competition to this point in Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans and Orlando (their lone loss is to Boston), so the Bucks should be a fitting test for Nurse’s squad.
Patrick McCaw is the only guy absent for Toronto with left knee pain.
Player to Watch: Fred VanVleet
Look, objectively, it’s a cool story that Fred VanVleet got hot following the birth of his son and helped lead the Raptors to a title last year. Does that mean I’m not going to resent him forever for what he did to the Bucks? No. So I’m going to watch him tonight. And I think I’d like him to miss every shot, but I can’t decide if that will just make me more angry it didn’t happen back in May. Maybe I should just root for him to not shoot at all? I don’t know. I just wanted to call attention to Fred VanVleet again in case anyone has grievances remaining. If so, consider tonight your Fredstivus.
Game 6: Against Toronto, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)