Fresh off a hard-fought win against the Indiana Pacers less than 24 hours ago, the Toronto Raptors (44-32) will continue their quest to lock up the Atlantic Division title as they head to Wisconsin to battle the Milwaukee Bucks (14-62). While this is a game that should favour the third-seeded Raptors, players and fans alike are well aware of the fact that no opponents can be overlooked— not at this point in the season.
With six games remaining, and the magic number to clinch the division (combined number of Toronto wins and Brooklyn Nets losses) currently sitting at five, the Raptors shouldn’t need any extra motivation to take care of business tonight.
Cage’s Keys to the Game:
Keep The Ball Moving:
Against the defensive-minded Pacers, the Raptors (sans Kyle Lowry) came away with 23 assisted baskets in the eight point win at the ACC. It’s safe to say that Milwaukee won’t be nearly as stingy. The Bucks have allowed an average of 104.7 points in their past three games. If the Raptors can keep the rock moving around, they should be able to take and make their fair share of looks from the field.
Dominate The Paint:
The Bucks roster this year has not been much to work for Larry Drew with. The fact that they’ll be playing this game with a depleted squad won’t do much to help the Eastern Conference bottom feeders get their 15th win of the season. Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, and O.J. Mayo will all be sitting out of this one with injuries. Keeping this in mind, Dwane Casey and the Toronto Raptors should make a concerted effort to attack the painted area because of the lack of Milwaukee resistance. DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross should look to take their defenders off the bounce. Jonas Valanciunas should be able to continue his recent surge of increased offensive production.
At this point in the time, health is a central concern for Toronto as the postseason approaches. Coach Casey has made it clear that he has been trying to buy some time to rest his main guys during this homestretch. For this to happen, the bench players will have to make notable contributions in tonight’s game.
@AuzairAnwar No speculation. Will have to see tmrw.
— RaptorsMR (@RaptorsMR) April 5, 2014
At the time of this post, there has been no word of Lowry or Amir Johnson returning to the lineup tonight. Look for Landry Fields and a few other rotation players to get opportunities to pitch in versus the lowly Bucks. If the Raptors can grab a W tonight without Lowry, it would mean the team would be 3-0 without the starting point guard in this recent span of games. With the next Toronto game on Wednesday, it’ll also mean that Lowry could potentially have at least a week of rest since hurting his knee four days ago. This could be huge as the regular season comes to a close.
X-Factor: Greivis Vasquez
Greivis Vasquez has done a decent job in Lowry’s absence. He’s been keeping his teammates involved, and he’s been finding ways to get his own offense going at the right times. He’ll definitely get his share of minutes tonight, so one could expect him to have a significant impact on this particular matchup. There’s no need for Vasquez to do anything spectacular— he just has to hold his own against some less than notable opposition.