Pre-Game

Gameday: Raptors @ Bucks, Jan. 5

Now that everyone has collected the couches that they threw onto their lawns – must be nice to have a lawn, you fascists – after watching DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge set the Lowry-less Raptors ablaze. It’s time to spend 3 hours trying to fit it through the front door, eventually removing the hinges, but not until after you realized the couch pegs unscrewed – you idiot – and planting it firmly in front of the television. This time, to see Giannis Antetokounmpo step on your feelings.

For this one, I chatted with the homie, Andrew Goodman, from BrewHoop.

Samson Folk: My guy, you down for another Raps-Bucks preview?

Andrew Goodman: 150%.

Samson Folk: DJ Wilson and Pascal Siakam are the darlings of their respective teams, how do you see each one of them impacting/changing the game in this one?

Andrew Goodman:  D.J. Wilson’s season started pretty much a month ago, and he’s already played more minutes than he did all of last year. This is pretty insane to type, as it was looking like Wilson’s NBA future was hanging on by a thread. He’s provided the Bucks with some terrific three-point shooting (47.8%) and he’s a very reliable defender. Albeit over a small sample size, this is really a testament to how well head coach Mike Budenholzer and his staff prepare the Bucks. However, the Raptors will provide a stiff test for D.J. As for Pascal Siakam, I am a HUGE fan. He’s an electric player in the open floor, and I love how he evolved his game and handles the ball a bit more. That spin move he added to his arsenal is unfair. He had 17 points last game against Milwaukee, and he’s good for at least one BIG dunk. It wouldn’t be surprising if he put up a big game with Kyle Lowry out.

Samson Folk: There is apparently no limit to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s workload. With this in mind, did you think that it was inevitable that the Bucks would overcome the Raptors in the standings, and do you think that they’ll hold onto the 1st seed all the way into the playoffs?

Andrew Goodman: His workload was unbelievable last season. He played 36.7 minutes per game in 2017-2018, but he’s down to 33.3 minutes per game this season under Mike Budenholzer. A big part of the dip in minutes is not only coach Bud’s willingness to tinker with lineups when he’s out, but the Bucks are also blowing teams out of the water. There was some slight concerns with his knee soreness last year, but it’s great to see the Bucks coaches take the stress off him. The Bucks and the Raptors are the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. I believe these two teams will joust it out until the end of the season and it’ll be a fun race to watch. Home court is all I care about.

Samson Folk: Is Malcolm Brogdon this good as a tertiary threat? A bona fide 50/40/90 player? Or is he overachieving over a long period of time?

Andrew Goodman: He’s definitely a formidable third option, that’s for sure. Brogdon has been awesome this season, putting up averages of 15.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. He always seems to be at the right place at the right time, and he’s a player the Bucks will go to down the stretch if they need a bucket. He’s taking such great shots which has allowed his percentages to rise steadily throughout the season. He’s been more aggressive taking the ball to the rack and the Bucks have benefitted from that because it opens up more looks from deep. I don’t think he is overachieving to any extent, but hey, some might think that’s bias 🙂

Samson Folk: Kyle Lowry is likely out for this game. Do you see the Bucks approaching this game different with this news? In other words, are they going to flatten out the pick n’ roll and leave Fred VanVleet dribbling above the break, jump more passing lanes?

Andrew Goodman: Having Lowry out is a total bummer, I would have loved to see both these teams at full strength. However, let’s not forget what FVV did last game against the Bucks. They know this is a big game with a chance to clinch the tiebreaker in their regular season series versus the Raptors. Even though he burned them last time in Toronto, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bucks encouraged him to let it fly. I think the Bucks being at home also plays a big factor in how VanVleet will perform.

Samson Folk: Who’s scoring more points in this one, Antetokounmpo or Leonard? Who’s grabbing the W?

Andrew Goodman: I think Kawhi will score more points, but Giannis will have the better all-around stat line. Leonard is going to have to shoulder the load with Kyle Lowry out, so a 30-point eruption is looking likely tonight. Whenever the Bucks and Raptors play it feels like a playoff environment. I have the utmost respect for the Toronto Raptors, and they have proven to be a formidable opponent against the Bucks in the past. However, the Bucks will take this one at home with the final score being 115-104.

Samson Folk: Thanks for the time, man.

Andrew Goodman: Looking forward to more of these in the future, good luck!

Game Info

TV: Sportsnet One | Radio: TSN1050 | Tipoff: 8:30 EST.

Raptors Updates

Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) remains out and Kyle Lowry (back) is doubtful.

PG: Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown

SG: Danny Green, Norman Powell, CJ Miles, Malachi Richardson

SF: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby

PF: Pascal Siakam

C: Serge Ibaka, Greg Monroe, Chris Boucher

Bucks Updates

PG: Eric Bledsoe, George Hill

SG: Malcolm Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo, Pat Connaughton

SF: Khris Middleton, Tony Snell

PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ersan Ilyasova, DJ Wilson

C: Brook Lopez, Thon Maker, Christian Wood

Tough to keep projecting wins when the Lowry-less Raptors have proven that they’ll play at a 45-win level. I don’t think the Raptors will take this one, but I’d love to be wrong.

Have a blessed day.

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