Tonight the Toronto Raptors will square up against the Milwaukee Bucks for the final matchup in their 7-game home-stand. The Raptors (9-2) are coming off a 96-92 victory versus the Western Conference leading Memphis Grizzlies in what was quite the emotional affair. This time around the Bucks (7-5) have done almost a complete 360 in terms of where they were last season. Already at seven wins, the Bucks have quickly changed how teams perceive them in this young season. Let it be known that the Bucks totalled 15 wins last year and didn’t get their seventh win until New Years Eve. The Bucks are riding a 3-game winning streak after defeating the Brooklyn Nets 122-118 in a triple-overtime thriller. This will also be the first time Raptors’ fans get a good look at second overall pick, Jabari Parker who has done an admiral job so far (11.8 ppg 5.7 rpg) learning the ropes of the NBA. The Raptors look to close out their 7-game home-stand on a positive note before they head on the road to face Tristan Thompson and friends in Cleveland.
For those hoping to see James Johnson and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo in action should hold their breath. Both are listed as questionable for tonight’s game with ankle injuries.
Attending tonight's Raptors game? Bring a shoebox w/ small items for women in Toronto-area shelters. #MLSEshoeboxlove pic.twitter.com/APVCmJkw83
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 21, 2014
Keys to the Game
Battle of the Benches
If you thought the Raptors had a good bench this year, don’t hesitate to take a look at Milwaukee’s league leading bench spearheaded by offensive specialist Ovinton J’Anthony Mayo (OJ Mayo) and Khris Middleton. The Bucks bench leads the entire NBA in scoring, they’re averaging 46 ppg in comparison to the Raptors whose bench is averaging 34.6 ppg. The Raptors are going to need consistent effort from every player that suits up tonight because these Bucks will try to catch a confident Raptors’ team off-guard. It’ll be a great test for the Raptors second unit, Greivis Vasquez will be needed to provide leadership if things do start getting out of hand.
It’s a Man’s Game, No time for Kidd’s
It’s been a few months since the Raptors last saw Jason Kidd parading the sidelines. Last time he was in the Air Canada Centre, he was accompanied by Toronto’s Atlantic Division rivals; the Brooklyn Nets. This time around, Kidd comes with a young and hungry Milwaukee team who have his full respect. Youngsters Brandon Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo are coming into their own under the tutelage of this NBA legend. He’s a coach who isn’t afraid to mix up his line-ups and try something different to get a boost out of his team. This is where Dwane Casey must avoid the urge to matchup against them and force the Bucks to try and matchup against the Raptors. Play Toronto basketball, not Milwaukee or Kidd ball. Establish your system and impose your will against this Bucks team to show them what a real contender in the East is supposed to look like.
Hit the Glass!
Toronto is one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (sitting 26th in the NBA) . Milwaukee on the other hand currently ranks 6th in the association. Larry Sanders is returning from a thigh injury and Zaza Pachulia is solid big who logs minutes. The Raptors will need to keep a body on their man at all times because these bigs specialize in grit. The Bucks aren’t a particularly big squad, but they have players who will hustle and hit the glass at every position. The Bucks will hit the boards with tenacity; their energy levels must be met in order for the Raps to come out victorious.
X-Factor: Amir Johnson
Tonight’s X-Factor is Toronto big man Amir Johnson. After Toronto got obliterated on the glass against Memphis, Johnson will be needed to get those 50-50 balls and prevent Milwaukee from getting those second-chance buckets. The Raptors have the offensive weapons they need to defeat the Bucks tonight, it’s just a matter if they have the heart to come out and dominate. This is where Amir’s presence comes into place. If he’s running the floor, getting to lose balls and hitting the glass in position than the Raptors will come out with a win tonight. Just stay away from the three’s.
If you do plan on attending the game, don’t forget to bring a shoebox and DONATE!