steph
Toronto Raptors Milwaukee Bucks February 8, 2011

Now that the losing streak is done with, the Raptors can back to playing ball, and not worrying about winning a game; there’s a real difference in focus when you just have to worry about executing and defending, and not carry the additional burden of needing a win to stop the embarrassment of an extended losing streak.

Had the opportunity to speak to Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksetball about the Bucks and guaged his interest for a trade:

Since I haven’t heard his name in over a year, let’s start with Michael Redd. Will we see him suit up this season, or is the guy done? He’s got an $18.5m contract coming off the books this year; is there a willingness to move that for someone who can contribute, or would you rather get the savings?
I’d be stunned to see Redd play for the Bucks again. Publicly all the right things are being said, but the team has no use for another guard who struggles to create offense and shoots a low percentage. Milwaukee’s spending spree last summer means they’ll enjoy the savings when Redd’s contract expires.

Luc Mbah a Moute is a favourite of ours at RR. Will the Bucks re-sign him in the off-season? What’s he worth?
Milwaukee certainly values him as high as any team does. His versatility on defense helps the Bucks tremendously. I’d say they probably value him around three years, $10 million, but given a difficult cap situation and the looming CBA changes, may not be able to afford that.

After coming back from injury, Jennings seems to be out of whack; he’s also not happy with this role (from what I’ve read). Is this a bigger deal than it seems?
In a week or two it won’t be a big deal. When things are going bad, every little thing seems a big deal. I think you can relate, yes?

With the trade deadline approaching, let’s make a deal: offer me something for Bargnani.
For Bargnani? I guess watching him play for Scott Skiles would be worth something in itself. Maybe CD-R and Gooden? I’m not high on Bargs, and I know Bucks Nation isn’t either.

You’ve already beat us the last time out, what’s your prediction for tonight’s game?
Tonight’s prediction: Bucks 108 – Raptors 102

Injuries

Toronto
Reggie Evans – Out
Linas Kleiza – Out
Jerryd Bayless – Day to day

Milwaukee
Drew Gooden – Out

Raptors Report

Jose Calderon
Jose’s truly the Raptors steward; his in-game ball management is crucial. He excelled at getting folks involved against the Wolves, but failed to make himself an offense threat, going 2-7 from e field. The Bucks are the fourth ranked defense in the league, meaning Jose has to be an aggressor on offense, while making the right passes. The Bucks defense needs to be put to the test in order to find holes in the armor. Having a 3-1 assist to shot ration will only benefit the Bucks.
Box: 13pts 3-3FG 12ast 4rebs

DeMar DeRozan
We saw him go 10-13 from the field for 20pts against the Wolves, but what fell through the cracks was zero trips to the line. That said, he put up a great all around game in my books, contributing across the board with 5rebs 2ast 3stl 1blk. This Bucks team won’t be spreading their legs wide open for DeMar to take it, so he will need to get crafty to create good scoring opportunities; none better than getting to the line. Delfino will be tough on both ends of the floor, but he’s onlypart of the problem; this team is very deep at the wing. If Barbosa isn’t ready to go, DeRozan will be carrying the load by himself for the most part.
Box: 19pts 7-9FT 6rebs 1stl

Sonny Weems
No hate, not after his performance against the Wolves. Did he take some bad shots? Yes, but he also did a lot of good things on the open court. I’m rating him as the best Raptor running the break without the ball. The Bucks wont be giving a. Lot of good looks at the rim, so it will be important for Sonny to not force the issue in the half-court. His size and athleticism will be tested against Maggette, who’s had a nice resurgence of late. Both Sonny and DeMar will want to take note of how effectively Maggette gets to the line, and more importantly, how efficiently he converts each attempt.
Box: 12pts 6rebs 3ast

Amir Johnson
The Wolves game could have been the best game he’s ever played in his career: 36min 19pts 12rebs 6ast 3stl 2blk and only 3 fouls. With Gooden out, he’s gotta be licking his chops to switch between Bogut and Ilyasova throughout the game. I like his size/strength against Ersan, and his speed/agility against the walking wounded aka Bogut will be crucial. The kids playing the right kind of ball for his team right now, just keep the fouls under control (like he’s been doing) and the rest will work itself out.
Box: 14pts 14rebs 2stl 3blk

Andrea Bargnani
It wasn’t a particularly pretty performance, but he found his offensive game, and played his part in an 11pt win over the Wolves, even going +10 for the game. Yea, no complaints from this corner as long as he continues to drop 22+ from the floor. What I appreciate the most about Bargnani is that he gets to the line: 7-8 against the Wolves. That’s 4 times he got fouled, by an opposing big. If he brings that against Bogut/Ilyasova tonight, it will really put the Bucks in a bad spot since they aren’t as deep in the front court as the Raptors.
Box: 24pts 5rebs 1blk

Bench
Barbosa practiced on Sunday, and might play tonight, but who knows. The Raptors could really use his ability to break people down off the dribble, and his kamikaze ways on the break. The Bucks are a tremendous defensive team, so the more guys we have that can keep chipping away at that armour the better. As far as Davis goes, he’s doing everything well except getting more shots for himself. It’s not that easy when Bargnani/DeRozan/Weems take the lions-share of shots, but he can average more than 6 attempts a game.
Box: 13pts 8rebs 3blk

Keys to the Game

Keep  Rolling
Getting that 13 game monkey off their back was crucial in letting them just get out there and run the court. This is a tough team to stop when they get up-and-down fast. You have to think that the atmosphere in the locker room has dramatically improved, which should translate into looser players on the court.

Run and Gun
The Bucks are offensively challenged,  2nd last in efficiency (ahead of the lowely Cavs), 2nd last in pace and dead last in eFG% (45.8%) and TS% (50.4%). They win games by shutting down opponents, and slowing the game to a halt. If the tempo picks up, and the Raptors get out and run, it could prove the right recipe since the Cavs are 1-10 in games where their opponent scores 100 points or more. The run and gun all starts with defense and rebounding, force the Bucks into bad shots, grab the board, and send DeMar/Sonny out on the break.

The Line

The degenerates think the Bucks win this by 8.5 and keep the pace slow with an over/under of 193.5. It’s hard to argue since the Raptors are a win removed from a 13 game losing streak, and have already beat us a week ago. As long as the Raptors don’t lay down, keep it close and compete, I’m happy either way. Bucks by 5.

You still have till 6pm today to enter for a chance to win tickets to tomorrows game against the Spurs. Leave a comment here, and we will pick the best one for the tickets. Contest ends at 6pm today.