Regular Season Series
With the Milwaukee Bucks holding the 8th-seed in the Eastern Conference standings, they are getting closer and closer to a rematch with the first place Toronto Raptors.
Milwaukee’s struggles against the Raptors are well documented, and this certainly is not an ideal first-round matchup for the Bucks. This season, The Bucks are 1-2 against the Raptors with their only win coming directly after the All-Star break (in overtime) at the Air Canada Centre. In the Bucks’ two defeats against Toronto, they lost by 4 in overtime, and by 19 in the other loss. Although the scores indicate that the games were “close,” the Raptors were in control for most of the 3 games.
A series against the Raptors would be an uber-talented affair. There are a ton of key matchups on both sides of the ball for each of these two squads.
DeMar DeRozan versus Milwaukee’s defense. The rise of seemingly unguardable DeMar DeRozan has been quite the surprise this season. He has blossomed into one of the best offensive shooting guards in the NBA. In his career-best season, DDR is averaging 23.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists per game all while shooting 45.8% from the floor. In fact, his stats against the Bucks this season are insane. He’s averaging a whopping 35 points, 6 rebounds, 5.3 assists and he’s shot the ball white-hot at 55.2% from the floor and a tremendous 44.4% from deep.
It will be interesting to see how Milwaukee decides to guard him. It’ll most likely be Tony Snell and Khris Middleton getting the call to defend the All-Star shooting guard. Perhaps MVP-candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo will get a few cracks at him, too.
Toronto’s size and length to combat Giannis. The Raptors are also a tough match for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their size and length have posed some issues this season for Giannis, but he’s still putting up great averages against Toronto this season. Despite a solid Raptors defense, he is averaging 25.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6 assists, while shooting 53.7% from the field. Giannis would undoubtedly be the best player in this series, so you know he’s going to get his regardless. Toronto’s size and length of Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas will certainly be a matchup to watch for versus the Greek Freak.
Who will win the rebounding battle? Another thing to keep an eye on is rebounding. Milwaukee is dead last in the NBA in rebounds per game (39.4), while Toronto is 17th at 43.6. The difference may not seem significant, but it most definitely is. Whenever the Bucks match up against the Raptors, they usually get bullied on the glass. The Bucks are going to need everything they can get from Tyler Zeller, John Henson, and yes, Thon Maker.
Bucks bench versus Toronto’s bench squad. Toronto has the best bench in the NBA this season. Their bench puts up 42 points per game, while the Bucks bench averages an ugly 16.7 points per game (27th in the NBA). Milwaukee’s woeful bench play has cost them some games and leads. Whenever the Bucks go to their bench unit, their play completely disintegrates. Each team’s second unit will play a huge role in this series, but the question is, will Milwaukee’s fall flat?
The X-factor for the Bucks in a series against the Raptors is none other than Khris Middleton. This season versus Toronto, he averages a mediocre 16.7 points, 3 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per contest. His shooting percentage dips from 47.1% to 43.2% versus the Raptors. His three-point shooting is also way down to 33.3% against them. With Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo holding their own against the Raps, the same can’t be said for Middleton. He’s the guy the Bucks need to turn it on in the postseason if they want to make a run.
If these two teams do in fact meet, I believe the Raptors would win the series in 5 games. Milwaukee’s horrible defense is a recipe for disaster against the NBA’s 3rd best offensive team. Although the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, he can only do so much. Milwaukee’s defense will what kills them in the postseason.