The Toronto Raptors (14-22), look to close out this six-game home stand off with a W, against the Milwaukee Bucks (18-17). This is the first meeting between the two teams, and should be an exciting one as well. It may be early, but it’s an important game for the Raptors, as the Bucks are one of the team’s they’re in pursuit of, if they’re looking to make the playoffs. The Bucks hold the eighth and final playoff spot, and will look to maintain that position against the Raptors today.
Cage’s 5 Keys to Victory
1. Contain Milwaukee’s backcourt
If the Raptors want to have any success on the defensive end tonight, they must contain one of the league’s best backcourts. The duo of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis has caused a lot of teams quite a bit of problems this season, and look to do so against the Raptors this afternoon. They’ve both averaged over 18ppg this season, and will be a tough matchup for both Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan.
2. Don’t fear Bucks interior.
The Milwaukee Bucks have one of the league’s best frontcourts, when it comes to the defensive end. Leading the league with nearly eight blocks per game, the Bucks interior defense possesses lots of length and athleticism. Despite the inside presence the Bucks have defensively, that cannot change the Raptors mindset offensively. The Raptors as a team, specifically being Amir Johnson and Ed Davis, need to continue to attack the basket, if they want to have success
3. Continue defensive stance
Things are starting to click for the Raptors on the defensive end, as they’re finally coming together when it comes to protecting their own hoop. Although things started off slow for them defensively, they’ve really picked up the slack as a team, and are drastically starting to step it up. After allowing less than 80 points in their previous two games, the Raptors need to continue everything they’re doing on defense.
4. Set the tone early, again.
Yes, the Bucks may be struggling as of late, but that’s no reason to write this team off in this one. The Bucks currently are sitting in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and can tear apart the Raptors, if they’re not careful. Just like Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Raptors need to get hot early, and maintain that pace of game throughout the game.
5. Second-unit must continue to thrive.
As good as the starters have been for the Raptors, the second-unit has been even better as of late. With guys like Alan Anderson, Terrence Ross, and Kyle Lowry coming off the bench, the Raptors have legitimate scoring options they can call upon at any time. This has been very lethal for Dwane Casey and the Raptors, as it has been a great deal of help to them, throughout their recent success.
The Cage’s X-Factor this afternoon will be DeMar DeRozan. Although DeMar has not had a lot of success against the Bucks (averaging 13.8ppg in 10 games against them), the Raptors are going to need their leading scorer to step up today, if they want to close out this home stand with a victory. He has somewhat of a favorable match-up with Monta Ellis guarding him, and needs to take advantage of that.
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