Back in the winners circle and feeling good, the Milwaukee Bucks bounced back in the second game of their home-and-home series against the Washington Wizards and now head to Canada to face the Toronto Raptors.
Where We’re At
Bruising, exhausting, implacable, effective, detrimental, up and down — pick any adjective in your language of choice and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s play will have mirrored it in some sense. In last night’s win he notched a career-high 55 points and is now on a streak of three straight games scoring 40+ points. His usage rate has been at a flat 40% since the road win over the New Orleans Pelicans, pushed along by the absence of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. That kind of output has its pluses and minuses: Positively, he is the sole reason we’re in any of these games at all and it's a testament to his conditioning. Negatively, putting that many eggs in one basket necessitates near-perfect execution an entire game — if he struggles at all, the ship of state starts taking on water immediately. Brook Lopez (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Bobby Portis (17 points, 13 rebounds) have helped out in this run, at least, and Jrue Holiday is now working himself back into game shape after an extended illness. Reinforcements are here or on the way, at least.
For the Toronto Raptors, it has been a season of some disappointment so far. Scottie Barnes was to take the next big step after winning Rookie of the Year. Fred VanVleet was supposed to bring the kind of guard scoring punch that took advantage of the chaos stirred up by a battalion of tall long-armed men. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are both entering or in their primes. Instead, Barnes’s numbers are marginally down almost across the board, FVV is shooting sub-40% overall, and while Siakam is having a career-year, injuries have kept Toronto from seeing what this assembly of individuals is capable of together. They have the league’s second-worst 3P% (32.9%) (which won’t stop them shooting 75+% against us tonight) and an almost bottom-third defense (114.2 DRTG, 19th). On Monday they lost on the road to the Indiana Pacers, 114-122, and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Still, they’ve no fewer than 11 guys who are 6’7” to 7’1” tall on the roster and coach Nick Nurse is considered a Giannis defense whisperer — although in Giannis’s one game against Toronto last season he scored 30 points, managing to go only 6-17 from the floor and boosted his numbers with an astounding 17-17 mark from the free throw line.
UPDATE: Jrue Holiday, Joe Ingles, George Hill, and Khris Middleton are all out for the Bucks.
For Toronto, they’re missing Otto Porter Jr. to a toe dislocation.
Player to Watch
I’ve a sneaking suspicion a couple of guys will be taking the night off for Milwaukee, but MarJon Beauchamp will likely not be one of them. Against an opponent chock full of guys he could reasonably be asked to guard, I’ll be interested to see how he fares in whatever individual matchup he’s given. He need not be a Siakam stopper, but can he prove disruptive enough to give the B-Team Bucks a chance?
Game 38: Against the Raptors, the Bucks will...
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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)
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