Season Series: Raptors 2-0
Coming off of a Friday night victory against the Indiana Pacers, the Toronto Raptors are in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. They are also looking to extend their 2-½ game lead on the Brooklyn Nets in the race for the Atlantic Division title. Standing at 44-32 on the season, the Raptors are 12 games over .500. The Bucks have won 14 games this season.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey will not allow his team to overlook any game, regardless of how the opposing team is doing. After Toronto’s win against the Pacers, he brushed off a question about what the victory meant, considering Indiana’s recent struggles. “It’s a win,” Casey said. You can’t get into the psyche, it’s a ‘W’ in this league. I told our players tomorrow night [against the Bucks] is the same as tonight.”
While Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson traveled with the team to Milwaukee, Casey all but ruled them out of Saturday’s contest during his pre-game availability session. DeMar DeRozan has had to step up his game with Lowry and Johnson out. He received plenty of help against the Pacers. Casey hopes this will continue in Milwaukee on the second game of a back-to-back.
What To Watch
Nando De Colo: With Lowry sidelined, the Raptors have needed Greivis Vasquez and Nando De Colo to fill in at the point guard position. Familiar with what Vasquez can do, this has provided an opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate De Colo. After he played 23 minutes in Friday’s game, Casey was impressed. Terrence Ross went so far as to compare De Colo’s passing ability to Jose Calderon.
Rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo: There haven’t been a lot of positives for the Milwaukee Bucks this season. In the middle of a rebuild, the year has been about developing young talent and looking toward the future. A big part of that future is rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo. Insanely athletic, endearing and hard-working, Antetokounmpo is likely to turn out to be the steal of the 2013 NBA draft.
Rebounding Terrence Ross: Ross was only credited with five rebounds against the Pacers, but all five came in the second half at crucial moments. In Toronto’s victory against the Rockets, Ross skied high for a team-high nine boards. With Johnson sidelined, Ross said he knew the team needed to focus on rebounding and he will continue to try to use his athleticism to sneak in for the boards that others can’t get it.
“You can tell when he’s out there the knows how to play. He came from a great system in San Antonio and that’s a great coach [in Gregg Popovich] to play under. He brings some of that energy to us on both ends of the court.” – DeMar DeRozan on Nando De Colo
“I’m more of a hustle and try to get a board I can’t really muscle anybody and box anyone out. I just have to try to get in there and fight for it.” – Terrence Ross on his rebounding technique
“We give each other the utmost confidence. If a guy misses 10 shots in a row, we’re going to give him the utmost confidence [still], and that’s what we do on both ends. [Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross] continue to get better and work hard every single day. They understand they are key roles to this team and us being successful. I credit tonight’s game to them. They came up big for us.” – DeMar DeRozan on the team having confidence in its sophomores
Raptors: Greivis Vasquez (G), DeMar DeRozan (G), Terrence Ross (F), Patrick Patterson (F), Jonas Valanciunas (C)
Bucks: Ramon Sessions (G), Brandon Knight (G), Khris Middleton (F), Jeff Adrien (F), Zaza Pachulia (C)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry – sore left knee (day-to-day), Amir Johnson – sore right ankle (day-to-day)
Bucks: Carlos Delfino – post-surgery, right foot (out), Ersan Ilyasova – sore right ankle (out), O.J. Mayo – sprained right ankle (doubtful), Larry Sanders – fractured orbital bone (out), Nate Wolters – fractured left hand (out)
By The Numbers: Raptors vs. Bucks
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Last Time They Met: Raptors 116, Bucks 94 – Jan. 13th, 2014