It all just fell apart in the 4th quarter last night in Cleveland, with the Cavs exacting a bit of revenge on the Raptors from that loss they suffered at our hands earlier in the season. Tonight, the Raptors roll into the Bradley Center on the first game of a home-and-home with the Bucks. In the podcast, I had picked the Raptors to 1-3 this week, with the only win against the Bucks Friday at the ACC. After watching the game last night in Cleveland, I’m not so sure anymore, but I’m not fully swayed.
The Raptors were able to stay in the game, until half-way into the 4th, by taking advantage of the Cavs turnovers. On 16 Cleveland turnovers, the Raptors scored 19 – compared to allowing only 11pts on 11 turnovers. I find comfort in this knowing that we play a team that has a young point guard who turns the ball over 2.74 times a game (3.7 in the last 10). With the way the Raptors have been pressuring on the perimeter over the last few games, this could prove to be an encouraging point of focus. Mind you, the Bucks as a team, protect the ball very well committing only 13.5 turnovers a game, but it all starts with Jennings for them.
The last time we played the Bucks we were playing sans Calderon and Bargnani. Playing without Bargnani extremely hurt since there was nobody on the perimeter who could knock down a freaking jumper. The Bucks are a very good defensive team at defending the three, where they allow a stingy 34.4% (10th best in the association) from behind the arc. You have to think that long jumpers would be similar since they are great at closing out on shooters. With Bargnani’s ability to put the ball on the court and take a few steps in, that could open up a lot of space.
Calderon’s loss meant that Luke Ridnour was able to run amok around the court, and a motivated Ukic had his way. This was before Banks was a difference maker on defense (it seemed as though as soon as he said it, he lived it; interesting…). While I don’t think Jose could stop either Ridnour or Ukic, he would have forced them to man him up on defense, and at least tire them out some, unlike what Banks did (nothing at all).
While the Bucks front court is nice (Bogut has been a God-send for me in one of my fantasy leagues), they don’t have the guns to beat a Bosh/Bargnani tandem. Over the last few games, they have really come together, and have a wicked hi-low post thing going on. Fortunately for the Bucks, Bosh and Bargnani played 42 and 37 minutes respectively which historically has meant they both will be a step slower.
Not sure what happened to DeRozan in the 2nd half of the Cavs game given how well he played in the 1st, but with his improved mid-range game, and relatively fresh feet, he could be an important piece to pace the Raptors early while they find that Zen spot to play through the pain. Belinelli too. He took a few bad shots at really bad points in the 4th, but he has the chops to attack the paint when folks close out on him, which the Bucks will. Again, these two wont be the keys to the game, but they can provide some spark off the bench to open up some space for Bosh, Bargnani, Jose and even
Chewy Hedo to operate.
The gamblers have the line at Bucks -2.5, which isn’t very encouraging for the home side considering the visitors were battling in Cleveland the night before. If the Raptors can control the paint, Jose plays how he did against Dallas, and Bargnani gets looks in the fourth, then the Raptors should win this. I wont hold my breath though. Sorry, but this is the second night of a back-to-back.