Before you look ahead to Saturday’s contest against the Bucks, make sure you double back and read Zarar’s post-game from last night. Nailed it pretty good.
Because it’s a back-to-back situation on a weekend, we’re gonna keep the pre-game very thin. It’s also a hangover situation for me personally, but hopefully the same can’t be said for the Raptors.
Anyway, Milwaukee has some real talent on the team and could be an exciting watch this year, but the Raptors should take this, even on the road. It’s worth noting that Milwaukee is also on the second game of a travel back-to-back, so while they have home court there won’t be much of a fatigue advantage.
The Raptors do have one distinct advantage, however, and that’s at the point. Milwaukee is without Brandon Knight (at least at the time of this writing it doesn’t sound as if he’ll play), which makes O.J. Mayo the starting point guard. He and Gary Neal started on Friday with Nate Wolters as the lone point off the bench. Wolters had six assists in 29 minutes but he and Zaza Pachulia were the only Bucks with more than two assists, which is probably what you’d expect when you read “O.J. Mayo, point guard.”
The offense could get sticky, and that makes it easier to guard. Caron Butler also starts for this team, and as good as LARRY SANDERS! is defensively, he doesn’t have a great offensive arsenal yet.
That all means that if the Raptors are willing to put in the effort (and avoid giving Ersan Ilyasova the Kyle Korver wide-open treatment) they should be able to keep the Bucks well under 100.
Offensively, it’s hard to really suggest much. The Raptors are going to be iso-heavy, and there’s not a lot we to analyze when it’s a pair of guys going one-on-five for stretches.
Tonight you may not even be able to blame them, as LARRY SANDERS! is basically Death To The Pick-and-Roll. His decision making and ability to seal off point guards without losing the dive man is incredible, and if he wants to he can basically erase Jonas Valanciunas. That is, assuming the team remembers he’s here in the first place.
Dwane Casey would do well to design action that involves both Valanciunas and Amir Johnson out of a pick-and-roll set, or at least have a non-ballhandling wing make baseline cuts if the screener can pull SANDERS! out of the paint. It’s tough to gameplan for a guy who protects the rim this well, but isolations where he can provide help defense aren’t going to be effective.
There’s also Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is fun to watch but won’t figure in much to the actual outcome. Just making this note for practice spelling his name. Antetokounmpo. Got it.
One look that could give the Raptors trouble is if the Bucks go super-long. SANDERS!, John Henson and Antetokounmpo all have wingpsans of approximately 90 feet, and you’d have to imagine a lineup with all three on the floor would be difficult to play against. Pull-up 20-foot jumpers, baby.
The line moved this morning from Bucks -1 to Raptors -1, I’d guess due to the lack of news on Knight. Still, 55 percent of action has now come in on Milwaukee, so it’s looking like more of a pick ‘em by game time. A one-point spread doesn’t really swing things much, so you’re essentially picking a winner outright.
I’m comfortable backing the Raptors for a win, and I’d take the under at 192.5 (although 60 percent of action is on the over).
Turns out this wasn’t so brief after all. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. and you can catch the game on TSN or follow along in the chat here at RR. Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone.