Toronto Raptors Game Preview: Raptors vs. Bucks


Toronto Raptors Game Preview: Raptors vs. Bucks

For the past two games, the Toronto Raptors have had fans yelling at their radios and televisions.

The Raptors ended up winning both of those contests in overtime, but squandered sizeable fourth quarter leads in Brooklyn and Washington.

Entering tonight’s matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto has won six consecutive games, but that streak will be put to the test seeing as its opponents have emerged victorious in three straight.

Dwane Casey’s group has defeated the Bucks on two separate occasions this year, and they will look to complete the season sweep this evening at the Air Canada Centre.

Key to Victory #1: Keep the foot on the gas pedal

Even though Toronto came out on the winning end of the previous two ball games, the team cannot make a habit of letting opposing teams back in games. That style of play is not sustainable, and if they keep it up, it’s only a matter of time before a team snatches the win away from right under their chin. Milwaukee ranks in the bottom third of the NBA in terms of first-quarter scoring while the Raptors sit in the top 10. If the home team can run out to a quick lead, it will be paramount for them to finish off their visitors as quickly as possible. Bring on the “Bruno” chants.

Jan 4, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Toronto Raptors center center Jonas Valanciunas (right) pushes forward Amir Johnson as he hangs from the rim swinging back and forth prior to the game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Raptors 125-109. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Key to Victory #2: Win the battle on the boards

By no means is either team involved in this clash a rebounding powerhouse. However, the Raptors should have plenty of opportunities for second-chance points tonight as Milwaukee is surrendering nearly 12 offensive rebounds each game. On the contrary, they rank dead last in the association over the past three games, pulling down only 6.7 offensive boards of their own per night. Get ready, Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson, you should have the chance to do some major damage this evening.

Key to Victory #3: Take care of the rock

Prior to this six-game win streak, the Raptors were being careless with the basketball resulting in a spike in turnovers. They must continue to make smart decisions and high-percentage plays tonight, otherwise the Bucks will make them pay. Milwaukee registers the fourth-most fastbreak points per game at 15.3, so Toronto must make them play in half-court sets, limiting opportunities for easy baskets. That could be easier said than done, seeing as the Bucks swipe nearly 10 steals each time they step on the court.

Marquee Matchup: Kyle Lowry vs. Brandon Knight

Apr 14, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) passes the ball past Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Knight (11) at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Milwaukee 110-100. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After blowing a 21-point lead, there was no way Kyle Lowry was going to let his team lose to the Wizards on Saturday night. The all-star point guard scored eight of Toronto’s 11 points in overtime, sealing the victory. The Villanova product has eclipsed the 10-point mark in all but three outings on the season, and he should be able to keep that roll going tonight. Opposing him will be a young star in the making in Brandon Knight. Although not as explosive as a player like John Wall, Knight is emerging as a dynamic scorer and playmaker since being traded from Detroit. The fourth-year man is averaging 17.7 points, 5.3 assists and 1.7 steals on the year. He is also proving to be a capable long-distance shooter, connecting on better than 40 percent of his three-point attempts.

Prediction: Milwaukee has been playing solid basketball of late, defeating an excellent Portland Trail Blazers team the last time out. Under Jason Kidd’s tutelage, the Bucks have been able to develop young talent like Knight and Giannis Antetokounmpo while simultaneously winning. Milwaukee should be an Eastern Conference playoff team, but they are still a tier below the Raptors. Look for Toronto to scrape out a win at home tonight.