Matchup: Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Records: Raptors (42-15), Bucks (49-8)
Where to Watch
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 25
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: TSN (Canada), FSWIS and TNT (USA)
Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
If the Raptors are going to finish this season with the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, this game is a must-win.
The reason why? The Raptors enter this contest seven games behind the Bucks in the standings with 25 games to go. With this being the first of three remaining games between the Raptors and Bucks this regular season - two of which will be played in Toronto - a win on Tuesday would help close the gap and keep their dream of surpassing Milwaukee alive.
Working in Toronto's favour is Milwaukee is on the second night of a back-to-back, as the Bucks are coming off of an overtime win over the Washington Wizards on Monday. Khris Middleton led the way with 40 points, helping the Bucks overcome a 55-point outing from Bradley Beal on a night where Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out in 24 minutes of play.
MORE: The Bucks are unstoppable ... or are they?
Middleton is now averaging 21.2 points per game on the season. He's doing so on 50.9 percent shooting from the field, 43.7 percent from 3-point range and 90.9 percent from the free throw line. If he maintains those numbers for the rest of the season, he'll join Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Dirk Nowitzki and Larry Bird as the only players since 1946-47 to average at least 20 points per game on 50/40/90 shooting splits.
Khash Money Middleton had a game:- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 25, 2020
40 PTS | 5 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL pic.twitter.com/BVTUsK0eLQ
Middleton was one of two players on the Bucks to be named an All-Star this season, the other obviously being Antetokounmpo. Though he struggled to stay on the floor against the Wizards on Monday, he's in the middle of another historic season with averages of 29.9 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists in 30.7 minutes per game. He's widely considered to be the front-runner for MVP, giving him a shot at joining a rare group of players to win back-to-back MVP awards.
Antetokounmpo's matchup with Pascal Siakam will be at the forefront of Tuesday's game. In their first meeting this season, Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks limit Siakam to 16 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the field. Siakam struggled on the other end of the floor as well, commiting six fouls in his 32 minutes of play, many of which came against Antetokounmpo.
MORE: What's Toronto's playoff magic number?
According to Basketball Reference's Game Score, which gives "a rough measure of a player's productivity for a single game," it was Siakam's fourth-worst performance of the season.
For the Raptors to have a chance against the red-hot Bucks, Siakam will need to hold his own against the league's reigning MVP.
- Marc Gasol (hamstring) - Out
- Dewan Hernandez (ankle) - Out
- Norman Powell (finger) - Out
- Patrick McCaw (illness) - Questionable
At the time of this being published, the Bucks have not yet submitted an injury report.
- The Bucks have the No. 1 ranked defence in the league this season. They're giving up 101.8 points per 100 possessions to their opponents.
- The Raptors have the No. 2 ranked defence in the league. They're giving up 104.5 points per 100 possessions to their opponents.
- Antetokounmpo is a big reason for Milwaukee's defensive dominance, but so is the team's starting centre Brook Lopez. According to NBA.com, only four players have defended more shots around the rim than Lopez this season. Opponents are shooting only 43.3 percent against him in those situations, which is better than two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (48.9 percent).
- The Bucks also have the third-ranked offence, whereas the Raptors rank 10th in that category.
- The combination has the Bucks outscoring their opponents by 11.6 points per 100 possessions. The 1996-97 Chicago Bulls were the last team to have a higher net rating.
- FiveThirtyEight's player-based forecasting model RAPTOR gives the Raptors a 65 percent chance of winning this game. The site's Elo forecast gives the Raptors a 56 percent chance of winning.
Last Time They Played
Date: Nov. 2, 2019
Score: Bucks 115, Raptors 105
Raptors: Kyle Lowry - 36 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 block
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo - 36 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 blocks
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