Toronto Raptors (Jay Triano) 10-13
(Likely) Inactives: Jose Calderon, Reggie Evans and Patrick O’Bryant
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 9-11
(Likely) Inactives: Joe Alexander, Francisco Elson and Michael Redd
Time: 7:00 (CST)
TV: FS Wisconsin
Brandon Jennings vs. Jarrett Jack
Calderon did not make the trip to Milwaukee, so it’ll be Bosh’s buddy Jarrett Jack taking the lead against the Bucks. The same Jarrett Jack who stopped to tie his shoe during play against Chicago last week. Chicago didn’t seem to mind though. Jack is a big strong point guard in the Billups mold, but not so savvy. He’ll be handful for Jennings, but doesn’t really excel at anything. He’s not a terrific scorer, isn’t a great shooter and doesn’t get to the line very often. There’s a reason he’s a backup at this point in his career. Still, he could give Jennings problems if he forces the issue, but with so many skillful offensive players on the court with him, it’s unlikely he will.
Carlos Delfino vs. DeMar DeRozan
I’m excited to see what DeRozan is all about. The talk of his athleticism before the draft made him sound as if gravity did not apply to his drives, but that’s likely not going to be the actual case. His points have about been in line with his minutes thus far this year, when he plays over 20 minutes he’s generally been more of a scorer, especially of late. The Raptors have plenty of scoring though, what they need is defense and that doesn’t seem to be DeRozan’s strong suit, despite his athletic gifts. He is getting to the free throw line once for almost every two shots he puts up, which is a terrific ratio and something that may be really put to use against the Bucks this evening.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute vs. Hedo Turkoglu
Wait, so the Raptors defense tanked once they surrounded their poor defending point guard and center with an aging, nonathletic, point forward at the shooting guard? Who ever could have seen this coming? Surprisingly, all of Turkoglu’s percentages are up, he’s just not shooting as frequently as he did in Orlando and he isn’t much of a defender. So why did they spend all that money on him? You got me. LRMAM should be able to use his unrelenting effort, length and athleticism to hassle Turkoglu into a rough night, so long as he’s not matched up against Bosh for large portions of the evening like he was last year.
Ersan Ilyasova vs. Chris Bosh
Thank god for Ersan in this one. Last year’s Bucks would have had to throw LRMAM on Bosh the entire game and hope for the best. Now the Bucks at least have someone who can compete with Bosh and take the pressure off of LRMAM. That frees LRMAM up to guard the perimeter and overall gives the Bucks a fighting chance of stopping the Raptors. Bosh has been destroying most people who’ve stood in his way this year (career highs in points 24.3 and rebounds 12.3) and can do it from all over the court. Now if he could just get this team to give any kind of effort on defense we’d be talking about a real superstar. Alas, he’s still on the second tier.
Andrew Bogut vs. Andrea Bargnani
What I like about this one for Milwaukee: Bargnani is soft and Bogut will be able to muscle him up inside. What I don’t like: Bargnani can really shoot the three so Bogut will be pulled away from the basket if he tries to stick with him out there. What I like: Bargnani has shot fewer free throws than Hakim Warrick despite playing nearly 300 more minutes. He doesn’t go inside. What I don’t like: Bargnani has one more block than Bogut despite generally being a soft guy. Overall, this one favors Bogut if he can get into Bargnani early and stay aggressive throughout. Should without question be a double double and hopefully a 20-15 kind of night for the big Australian guy.
Warrick, Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric
Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright and Rasho Nesterovic
I think I’d be even more frustrated with Amir Johnson than I am typically with Hakim Warrick, as much as I hate to admit it. I did like Johnson, but he still fouls all the time and still isn’t anything more than an energy guy. Belinelli gave it to the Bucks last year as a member of the Warriors, but I don’t anticipate that will happen again. Antoine Wright has played 314 minutes and has an offensive rating of 87 with a defensive rating of 118. That’s a negative 31. I may have overstated myself when I said Roko Ukic was the worst player in the league. Yikes. Ridnour should be available tonight after KG crushed his arm. Ridnour is a man.
Prediction: Bucks 114 – Raptors 107
Have I mentioned that the Raptors play some questionable defense? This is a great opportunity for the Bucks to get their offense on track and try and get back some of the confidence they had at home before the Cavs came in and robbed them of it. An injured point guard in an up-tempo system usually doesn’t spell victory, so the Bucks HAVE to capitalize on the Raptors missing their floor leader Wednesday night.