Bell Game of the Week: Toronto Raptors face new-look Milwaukee Bucks for first time in 2020-21 season | NBA.com Canada

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Who’s Playing

Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Records: Raptors (7-10), Bucks (10-6)

Where to Watch

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: TSN (Canada), League Pass (USA)

Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida

MORE: Watch live games on your favourite device with NBA League Pass

Game Preview

The Raptors and Bucks meet for the first time this season.

The Raptors enter the matchup on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff race with a 7-10 record. The Bucks are 10-6, tying them with the Boston Celtics for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors have looked more like themselves lately, winning five of their last seven games following a 2-8 start to the season. They do, however, enter Wednesday’s game with some injury concerns. Kyle Lowry (right foot soreness) returned in Toronto’s loss to Indiana on Monday, but Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said after the game that it was a late decision for the six-time All-Star to play and that he didn’t think he was 100 percent.

Additionally, Pascal Siakam (left knee swelling) has missed two straight and his availability against the Bucks is up in the air.

It’s been an interesting season thus far for the Bucks. While they have one of the best records in the Eastern Conference yet again, they haven’t done it in the same way as they did last season.

Entering Wednesday’s matchup with the Raptors, the Bucks are scoring at a rate of 117.9 points per 100 possessions on the season. Not only is that up from 111.9 last season, it’s the best mark in the league. The Bucks haven’t been quite as dominant defensively, falling from first in defensive efficiency last season to 10th this season.

The foundation is the same for the Bucks, but they’ve made some tweaks on both ends of the court and welcomed some new faces in the offseason. It begins with Jrue Holiday, who has hit the ground running to the tune of 16.1 points, 5.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, and includes more offensive-minded players off the bench in D.J. Augustin, Bryn Forbes and Bobby Portis.

We probably won’t know if those tweaks and additions are enough to get the Bucks over the hump until the playoffs, but they’re off to a promising start.

Three Things To Watch

1. How the Raptors defend Giannis Antetokounmpo

It’s no secret that Antetokounmpo is the most feared paint scorer in the league. It takes a team to keep him out of the paint, but expect OG Anunoby to draw the primary assignment of matching up with the two-time MVP.

Antetokounmpo has career averages of 18.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game on 54.1 percent shooting from the field against the Raptors.

2. Chris Boucher bouncing back

Boucher has come back down to earth following a blazing start to the month of January. Whereas he averaged 18.4 points and 7.3 rebounds over the first nine games of the month, he’s averaging 8.5 points and 5.5 rebounds over the last four games. The Raptors need Boucher to get back on track, otherwise they’re going to struggle to get production out of the centre position.

3. The transition game

According to NBA.com, the Bucks are averaging 24.6 possessions per game in transition this season, the most in the league. In second place is the Raptors with 21.9 transition possessions per game. Both the Bucks and Raptors have struggled with efficiency, ranking in the 44th and 14th percentile respectively, but they get out in transition more than any other team in the league.

Injury Report

An injury report has not yet been submitted by either the Raptors or Bucks.

Check back closer to tipoff.

Game Notes

  • The Bucks currently rank first in the league in offensive efficiency (117.9) and 10th in defensive efficiency (108.9).
  • The Raptors currently rank 15th in offensive efficiency (110.0) and 16th in defensive efficiency (109.2).
  • Khris Middleton is averaging career-highs of 21.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game on .522/.426/.920 shooting splits.
  • Jrue Holiday is averaging 1.9 steals per game, tied for the fifth-highest mark in the league.
  • Only Boston Celtics forward Jaylen Brown (8.2) is averaging more points per game in transition than Giannis Antetokounmpo (8.1).
  • OG Anunoby has scored in double figures in nine straight games, making for the longest streak of his career. The last time Anunoby scored less than 10 points was Jan. 8, 2021.
  • Chris Boucher blocked his ninth 3-pointer of the season in Toronto’s loss to Indiana, extending his lead over Jerami Grant for most in the league.
  • Fred VanVleet ranks fifth in the league with 3.6 deflections per game.
  • Kyle Lowry (9,998) is two points away from 10,000 career points in a Raptors uniform. Chris Bosh (10,275) and DeMar DeRozan (13,296) are the only other players in franchise history with 10,000 points.
  • The Raptors (40.6) and Bucks (41.0) rank second and third, respectively, in fewest opponent paint points allowed per game.

Last Time They Played

Date: Aug. 10, 2020

Score: Raptors 114, Bucks 106

Raptors: Chris Boucher – 25 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals

Bucks: Kyle Korver – 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

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