The Milwaukee Bucks have had since Thursday night to sit quietly and think about what they did — namely play poor transition defense and allow the Indiana Pacers to scorch the nets in the second half. On Sunday night, Bud is offering them a chance to make up for that with a game against the always-unpleasant Toronto Raptors, coming off a win against Minnesota on Saturday night.
Where We’re At
The name of the game right now is maintaining control of the one seed in the Eastern Conference. At one time, it looked like Boston would be Milwaukee’s main competition for that slot, but the surging Sixers (excuse me, felt kinda sick having to type that) are two games back as well and winners of eight straight. With just 12 games left, the Bucks can’t afford to have too many stinkers like that Pacers game (although IMO, say it with me…OUTLIER). Here’s a chance to bank a win against a lower-level opponent.
All that being said, the Raptors remain a team that I don’t enjoy playing against. Between all their length, Nick Nurse playing his starters at 90’s level of minutes, an OREB style and Jakob Poeltl now in the fold so there’s no open runway to the rim, there’s plenty to be concerned about here. They’ve won three straight as they jockey for play-in position, with Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet pouring in 55 combined to beat the Wolves.
Grayson Allen and Brook Lopez are both probable for Milwaukee, a positive sign. But Jae Crowder and Goran Dragic are out. Crowder is a bummer since his size and switchability would’ve been nice.
Player to Watch
Khris Middleton has looked more like himself in recent games, even if his jumper has looked a tad flat at times. The Bucks will need him on both ends, but I’m especially curious how he holds up defensively against a team with this length. I would say Middleton has lost a step on that end over the years, but his sheer size can still be an asset. Hopefully he can bring both ends of the court together on Sunday.
Game 71: Against Toronto, 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)