Philadelphia 76ers v Toronto Raptors

WAAAA BRENDAN SHANAHAN AHHHH RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE!!!

Hey, guess what, an actual game is being played at the ACC on Monday, too. I know, secondary to a new president of the Leafs, but we’ve got to cover it, assuming it isn’t cancelled because the local media is still fellating Shanahan at Gate 6. If the game does go down, it’ll tip off at 7 p.m. on TSN, and features your 47-33 Toronto Raptors against the 15-65 Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks, in April? Well, here are a few reasons to care:

*The Raptors will be raising their SECOND Atlantic Division Champions banner to the rafters before the game. Please use the hashtag #bannerz when discussing on social media.
*The Raptors can set the franchise record for wins with a victory. The current 47-win mark is tied with two other seasons as the best mark in franchise history.
*The Raptors are tied with Chicago right now and own the tiebreaker. A win with a Chicago loss would clinch the three-seed and almost surely mean they avoid Brooklyn in round one, if that’s something you care about.
*With a loss, the Bucks will clinch the best lottery odds.
*Giannis Antetokounmpo.
*Jonas Valanciunas has been beasting of late (18.3 points and 11 rebounds on 60.7 percent shooting over his past eight).
*DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry making final statements for Most Improved Player voting.

To help us set the stage, I enlisted the help of Eric Buenning of BrewHoop.

1. The Bucks magic number is 1. As in, one Bucks loss or Sixers win locks up the league’s worst record and, therefore, the best chance at getting the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. The Bucks are also assured of a top-5 pick already. This must feel good after a year of feeling bad. How would you rank your top-5 draft prospects, and was a 15-65 season worth it?

It really does feel good, though the process to get there wasn’t organic (read: this was soooooo not planned). It’s essentially a toothless smile after all the beatings they’ve endured this year, but whatever. It’s still a smile. They’re in this position and tomorrow looks a lot more promising than today.

With regards to the draft, the excitement for the best odds at the no. 1 is definitely there, but I think what Bucks fans are most amped (or maybe relieved) about is that no matter where they fall in the draft order, they’ll have a chance to pick up a premier prospect and add that to their small group of intriguing young talent. That being said, there is still a wish list within the broader wish list (mine goes Wiggins-Parker-Embiid-Exum-whoever, by the way…I think) that folks are surely going to argue about for the next two months. It’s fine; people have their preferences, but we Bucks fans can sleep easy knowing that one of these super highly touted guys will be dressing in Bucks gear next year. That’s nuts. This doesn’t happen too often ’round here.

Was all the losing worth it? Technically yes, because high draft picks are cool and exciting and the Bucks need that buzz surrounding them. The only concern I would have going forward is that this young little group of players that are here already (Brandon Knight, John Henson, Giannis, Nate Wolters, Larry Sanders, Khris Middleton) aren’t as good as they’re expected to be once the primary talent is brought in. There’s a fair amount of potential in that cast, but when you lose 65 or 66 games in a 82-game season, the question of ”well, are they really going to be any good?” has to creep into your mind a little bit. But, they’re all under the age of 25 and have pretty solid potential going forward, so we’ll see. I think this whole year was worth it if it means that this young group plus the pick(s) are the ones leading the campaign next year.

Milwaukee hasn’t beaten a .500 team since Dec. 6. Give me one reason Raptors fans should be even remotely worried about this game, which actually means something to Toronto.

I’m pretty sure there is some incentive among professional athletes to not be known as part of the worst team in the league any given year. As much as almost everyone around the situation wants the Bucks to lock down that worst record, I can’t imagine the players are like, ”yeah! Let’s try and lose and not be embarrassed about it!” So basically, if the Raptors have their sights set on the playoffs while Milwaukee is trying to not be the cellar-dweller, there could be a chance that Milwaukee steals a victory. DO NOT LET THIS HAPPEN, TORONTO.

Giannis Antetokounmpo. Still the best?

Yep. He’s certainly reached the limit on what he can accomplish on the court in his rookie season, but he’s still brought so much joy to a team that’s had so little to smile about. Some people have considered that over-saturation of a player who isn’t that good yet, but whatever. Let us be the slightest bit happy (even if it gets crazy once in a while) about something that’s gone well for us, please and thank you.

Despite owning the league’s second-worst defensive efficiency mark, the Bucks do a decent job chasing teams off the 3-point line above the break. Is this a positive sign for the defensive system, or is it simply indicative of the Bucks bleeding attempts in the paint and from the corners? (I’m stretching to find positives to say about their play, sorry.)

I have no idea, honestly. I can’t really say I’ve picked up on any patterns for this defense other than sighing deeply. Sorry.

O.J. Mayo has gotten quite fat this season. Milwaukee’s known for their beer, but what local foods do you think he’s been plumping up on?

Before I answer this, I want to express regret for not starting a Fatty Mayonnaise craze. That meme/photoshop would have gotten me ALL the retweets and groupies that come with high retweet totals.

So I looked up foods to avoid belly fat (which is where his gain has been, mostly), and I’ve come up with this list:

-pancakes
-ice cream sandwiches
-doughnut holes (glazed, probably)
-brats
-ice cream sundaes (you could totally see him hosting Sundae Sunday at his place, couldn’t you?)
-everything else

Vegas says: Raptors -11 or -12 depending on where you go, with an over/under of 205. No data is available on where the action is going.
Hollinger says: Raptors -14
Nelly says: Treat ‘em like they’re from Milwaukee, send ‘em Green Pay Packin

Blake says: Bullying is morally apprehensible but I would like for the Toronto Raptors to raise a banner and then raise the bar for ass kickings and raise the roof with their great play and raise expectations entering the playoffs. Raptors by one point for each heart Giannis warms during the game.