The Raptors make their return from the All-Star break on Friday night hosting the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors have been off since Wednesday the 14th, when they earned their 7th straight victory by beating the Chicago Bulls. They’ve been winning in spectacular fashion as well, with the team’s starters getting the fourth quarter off because of blowouts in six of the seven victories. The bench has also been fantastic over that stretch, with the five-man lineup of Fred Van Vleet, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl having a +57.2 net rating in 80 minutes in those games.
Going forward into the final stretch of the season, the Raptors have no remaining road games against the Western Conference, and with a two-game lead in the Eastern Conference, they have a solid opportunity to head into the playoffs as the 1-seed in the East.
On the season, Milwaukee has been a middle of the pack team on both offense and defense, but since firing head coach Jason Kidd on January 22nd, they’ve gone 9-3, with the second best defense in the league over that stretch. Giannis Antetokounmpo has shown yet more growth this season, and leads the league in scoring at 27.8 points per game. His jump shot still remains a weakness, but with his ability to get to the rim combined with his size, length and quickness, he remains a threat from anywhere on the court.
This will be the third of three meetings between the two teams this season, with the Raptors having won both meetings thus far. The game tips tonight at 7:30 PM EST on TSN4 and TSN5.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 22, 2018
Toronto is completely healthy at this point in the season, with the starting lineup rolling and the bench playing dominant basketball going into the All-Star break. OG Anunoby looked a little limited physically after spraining his ankle against Charlotte, but neither he or the team seemed worried, and with the 9 days off he’s now had, should be healthy coming into this game. Lorenzo Brown missed Wednesday’s Raptors 905 game, and it’s unclear if he’ll be available for this one.
PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, , Malachi Richardson
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Malcolm Miller
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Alfonzo McKinnie
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: Lorenzo Brown
The Bucks had been trying to bring Jabari Parker back into the rotation prior to the All-Star break, with him having played six games, but only managing 15-20 minutes in any of those appearances while also sitting the second night of a back-to-back. It’s not quite clear yet whether he’ll end up as a starter once he gets fully re-adjusted, but for now it seems likely he’ll remain in this bench role. Also, with Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova, and Mirza Teletovic all out with injuries, the Bucks have been experimenting with solutions to try to fill out their bench lineups of late. It’s unlikely any of those players play tonight, but John Henson may be available after missing three games with right hamstring soreness.
PG: Eric Bledsoe, Jason Terry, Xavier Munford
SG: Tony Snell, Sean Kilpatrick
SF: Khris Middleton, Sterling Brown
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, DJ Wilson
C: Thon Maker, Tyler Zeller, (John Henson)
OUT: Malcolm Brogdon, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic
TBD: John Henson
The Raptors are 7.5 point favorites, with a 215 over-under.