Hurrah, home opener: Bucks vs. Raptors Preview

Will Bucksketball only feature Nate Wolters photos this season? (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Will Bucksketball only feature Nate Wolters photos this season? (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Through two games, there have been two versions of the Milwaukee Bucks: The version without Zaza Pachulia, one that struggles to rebound, score or produce much positive basketball at all and the version with Zaza Pachulia, an offensive juggernaut that locks down its opponents on defense. He’s unequivocally the Bucks MVP and is having arguably one of the most quietly dominating seasons of all time.

Two games is not much for sample size.

Obviously we don’t expect this trend to continue. At some point, it would be ideal for Milwaukee if Larry Sanders found himself and was able to unseat Pachulia in critical fourth quarter minutes.

What to Watch For: Bucks

The Bucks have ridden average play from Nate Wolters, exceptional play from Pachuila, very good play from John Henson and meh play from everyone else to a 1-1 record and a very rocky eight quarter of basketball. Milwaukee has fallen behind by 20 points in both games it has played this season. It’s easier to overcome a 20-point deficit and win against a bad team, which is what the Boston Celtics are, which is why the Bucks have one win. But most teams in the NBA are not bad and falling behind by 20-points and frantically trying to get back in the game is not a sustainable strategy.

Brandon Knight  and Luke Ridnour are game time decisions, so we could be seeing more Wolters in the home opener. He’s proven a capable of handling NBA minutes to at least some degree. Think of him as an upgrade from Ish Smith, but not exactly an answer at the point guard position. Milwaukee will need more out of O.J. Mayo going forward and there’s no night like tonight for him to start taking a bit more control of the Bucks offense.

What to Watch For: Raptors

The masses are already getting restless in Toronto after a 1-1 start and an uninspiring loss in Atlanta Friday night. Two things already appear evident for the Raptors: Rudy Gay is still Rudy Gay and we’re going to know whether DeMar DeRozan will be apart of future Toronto plans fairly quick this year.

After a strong opening night, Gay returned to form with a 4-19 FG night in Atlanta. Reports have indicated that Toronto is peddling Gay and his max contract all over the league, looking for a taker. He’s long been a favorite of the “YOU WATCH BASKETBALL WITH YOUR EYES YOU DON’T JUST LOOK AT STATS” community and a ne’er-do-well in the “EFFICIENCY IS WHAT IS IMPORTANT” community. He’s very graceful and athletic, but also very willing to settle for long jump shots that don’t go in very often.

DeRozan has been heading down the Rudy Gay path and we’ll probably know if he’s committed to that outcome this season. But he could surprise.  He’s already attempted eight threes this season and made 50% of his two-point shots. There’s hope yet. These two will go a long way in determining whether or not the Raptors win on most nights. When they are on, the Raptors will be good. When they are not, the Raptors will be bad.

Injury Report

Bucks: Brandon Knight (hamstring, day-to-day), Luke Ridnour (back, day-to-day), Carlos Delfino (foot, out)

Raptors: Aaron Gray (something, day-to-day) Steve Novak (back, day-to-day)

Projected Lineups


PG Gary Neal

SG O.J. Mayo

SF Caron Butler

PF Ersan Ilyasova

C Larry Sanders


PG Kyle Lowry

SG DeMar DeRozan

SF Rudy Gay

PF Amir Johnson

C Jonas Valanciunas

Choose the Form of the Destructor

Did you know this song was about Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo’s little brother and his battle with a car insurance company? I did not. But tonight, I’d like to think it’s about Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas and his battle with the Milwaukee Bucks.

He doesn’t literally have a box full of the Bucks’ toys, but he does have a handful of post moves and a potentially game changing post game. Through two games, he’s battled some foul trouble and hasn’t been great, but he’s the kind of post player that could, yet again, land Larry Sanders in foul trouble and give the Bucks headaches. If Vitor Faverani was a lot for Sanders to handle, Valanciunas will be no picnic.


The Bucks will be above .500 after this game has finished. Per’s Alex Boeder, the Bucks are a great home opener team:

The Bucks are 33-12 in home openers in franchise history. That translates statistically to winning pretty much all the time (or 73.3 percent). Essentially, the Bucks turn into a dominant team during home openers.

Your final score: Bucks 99 – Raptors 90.

Categories: Game Previews

Tags: ,,,,,,


  1. Jeremy this is a total disservice to Wolters. Yes it’s only been two games but in those two games he has managed low turnovers and a good plus minus while being matched up against some of the better perimeter defenders in the league – Prigioni, Shumpert, and Bradley.

    The way he has probed the defense and limited turnovers has been nothing short of impressive, I don’t think many share the opinion that his debut thus far has been ‘average’ for a rookie…..

    Middleton deserves some props too. And again small sample size but it doesn’t take a large sample size to assess things like player movement or ball handling.

    Sorry for the rant, always enjoy your writing, go Bucks!

    • ‘Think of him as an upgrade to ish smith but not exactly an answer at the pg position’

      He may not be the answer at pg but why are you assuming already that he can’t be? Just don’t really understand this comment at all. I hate to say it but I think we need to be color-blind when evaluating players.

    • Totally agree. Not sure why he called out Walters! Walters has good court vision, a good handle, good shot. The only thing I would say (and I think he’s getting better at it) is he needs to be quicker with the ball and getting other people involved. However for a second round pick and getting the exposure he has had, he’s handled it admirably!

    • Has he not been an average player? I’d say it’s a good thing that a second round pick has been an average player through two games in his NBA career. Better than Ish Smith means he could be on an NBA roster regularly for years to come.

      • He was a big part of two 20 pt comebacks, statistically and situationally he played well, not average.

        I’m not saying that he is going to be the future solution at pg, but you are already directly stating that he is not the answer. So with all due respect just hold on a second here before labeling the guy as a career backup. Many a 2nd rounder have fared well in this league.

  2. Is our best lineup really Wolters, Antetokounmpo, Middleton, Henson, Pachulia? Maybe so. That lineup can do so many different things its pretty impressive. More impressive is that this team is honestly 15 deep, even though Za in the post game said 13? Haha. Are we going to be in every single game this year? Our bench is phenomenal. The distribution of minutes will help us lots down the stretch and in back to backs. Go Bucks!!! See ya at the game! Section 216, I’ll be the one yelling.