Game Preview: Raptors @ Bucks

Quick hits after a quick turnaround for the Raptors, who close a back-to-back in Milwaukee against the Bucks tonight (8:30 PM ET, TSN, FAN590).

– Both the Raptors and Bucks dug similar holes on Friday night, but responded very differently. The Bucks managed to spoil the Celtics’ opener in Boston by erasing a 22-point second-half lead, while the Raptors stumbled before halftime in Atlanta and couldn’t regain their footing (despite some serious heroics from DeMar DeRozan).

Should be interesting to see how both teams respond in the home opener for the Bucks and the end of the Raptors’ first back-to-back this season.

– Will we see an improvement with ball movement tonight? The Raptors had only four assists by halftime in Atlanta and only 30 of the team’s 78 made field goals this season have been assisted. The ball has been sticking and head coach Dwane Casey acknowledged post-game that it’s been an issue since preseason.

– Short night with limited touches for Jonas Valanciunas on Friday, with five shots in 18 minutes against a smaller Hawks lineup on Friday. He faces a tough matchup tonight against an all-league shotblocker in Larry Sanders, who should also be pretty fresh as he also played right around 18 minutes on Friday.

– Rough night for Rudy Gay in Atlanta (6-23 from the floor for 14 points) and he seemed affected by it post-game on Friday. Expect him to be plenty motivated tonight, but some higher percentage looks closer to the basket would undoubtedly help. According to Bloomberg Sports, 53.7 per cent of Gay’s scoring in this (very young) season is coming outside of the paint, where he’s connecting at a .318 clip. Relative to last season, he’s shooting slightly more and hitting less from there.

– It’s been no contest head-to-head between these two teams lately. The Raptors aim to snap a 10-game slide against the Bucks and aim for their first win in this series since January of 2010. That drought extends even further in Milwaukee — where the Raptors last won on November 1, 2008.

– Free throw shooting has been an issue. Through two games, opponents have gotten to the line 60 times versus just 37 trips for Toronto. That’s fewer opportunities for easy points and when they have made it to the line, they haven’t capitalized — connecting just 20 times (54 per cent). It’s a big departure from the preseason, where the Raptors were +45 vs. opponents in free throws made and shot 183-of-227 (.806) from the stripe.

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