Limping to the finish: Bucks – Raptors Preview
What to Watch For: Bucks
The Bucks’ injury list is expanding daily as they enter the home stretch of the season. Ekpe Udoh and Miroslav Raduljica joined the walking wounded on the bench for Friday’s game against the Bulls, leaving only Zaza Pachulia, Jeff Adrien, and John Henson in the frontcourt. It seems like that will be the case again on Saturday, which will again test the team’s big men against a deep Toronto lineup featuring Jonas Valenciunas, Amir Johnson (questionable for Saturday’s contest), a capable backup in Patrick Patterson, and a Grade-A annoyer in Tyler Hansborough.
Also, as D.J. Stephens’ 10-day contract expired yesterday and apparently won’t be renewed, we’ll all be waiting in breathless anticipation to see who the Bucks decide to bring in for the home stretch of the season. BREATHLESS ANTICIPATION, I SAY.
UPDATE: You can resume breathing. The Bucks have signed Chris Wright to another 10-day contract, which means that the hope for BIG DUNKS is still alive in Milwaukee.
What to Watch For: Raptors
Hey, they’re a playoff team! And they’re actually good for the first time in a while! The Raptors actually improved since their trade of Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings–they were 7-11 (.368) with him and have gone 37-20 (.649) since then on their way to a tie for the third seed in the Eastern Conference. DeMar Derozan has led the charge, averaging a career-best 22/4/4 and providing a scoring compliment to point guard Kyle Lowry (17 points, 7.5 assists per game). Plus, they’re coming off of a spirits-boosting win over the Indiana Pacers and appear to be heating up just in time for the playoffs to roll around.
In the teams’ most recent matchup, Valenciunas made his presence felt down low en route to a double double (17 points, 10 rebounds). With the aforementioned depleted Bucks lineup in play, I expect that he will be able to replicate those numbers tonight.
Time – 7:30 CDT
TV – None
Radio – 1250 WSSP
Bucks: Nate Wolters (fractured hand; out), Larry Sanders (loving the dank; out +5), Carlos Delfino (right foot surgery; out), O.J. Mayo (sprained weight-bearing ankle; questionable), Ersan Ilyasova (sore ankle, out), Ekpe Udoh (knees; questionable) Miroslav Raduljica (ankle; questionable).
Raptors: Amir Johnson (ankle; questionable), Kyle Lowry (bruised kneecap; questionable)
PG Ramon Sessions
SG Brandon Knight
SF Khris Middleton
PF Jeff Adrien
C Zaza Pachulia
PG Greivis Vasquez
SG DeMar Derozan
SF Terrence Ross
PF Patrick Patterson
C Jonas Valenciunas
Choose the Form of the Destroyer: DeMar Derozan
He used to be the kind of player that got (figuratively) murdered by the analytics crew, much in the same way that Rudy Gay has. “He shoots too much! He’s not efficient! His shot selection is terrible! Can a team win games with him as their primary scoring option??????” And so on and so forth. He’s silenced some of them in his fourth season, raising his shooting percentage to around 43% (still not very good, but ehhhhh) and being the primary scorer on a Toronto team that’s now headed for a top-4 playoff seed. Since the Raptors’ other primary scorer and ballhandler (Lowry) may not play in this game, we can basically pencil DeRozan in for 28 points, even if it takes him 25 shots to get there.
Prediction: Raptors 105, Bucks 92
Categories: Game Previews