The Toronto Raptors roll into Milwaukee Sunday on a three-game winning streak, looking to make it four in a row as they visit the NBA-leading Bucks.
Toronto (35-36) opened its weekend back-to-back on Saturday at home with a 122-107 win over Minnesota. The Raptors scored 66 first-half points and finished the game shooting better than 53 percent from the floor, 48 of 90.
Pascal Siakam scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Fred VanVleet went for 28 points and seven assists. The duo led six Raptors who scored in double figures as Toronto remained in ninth-place in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s super important, and for me, one of the things I always do when I feel like I’m struggling [to score] is to focus on the other things. Try to rebound, try to play defense, communicate,” Siakam said in his TSN postgame interview following the win, in which he moved into fifth all-time in Raptors franchise history for double-doubles with 92.
As for offense, Siakam added: “The shots are going to fall.”
And shots have indeed been falling for the Raptors in this recent stretch. The Toronto offense has come alive for this winning streak, scoring at least 122 in all three contests.
The Raptors will look to continue their scoring success against an opponent in the Bucks, who excel at scoring with an average of 116.2 points per game.
Milwaukee (50-20) pushes the pace effectively, but its last time out that style went awry when it surrendered 84 second-half points in a 139-123 loss on Thursday to the Indiana Pacers.
The Bucks surrendered double-figure scoring to eight different Pacers in the loss, which was just their second over the past seven games.
“Try to get back in rhythm as much as I can,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said in Thursday’s postgame press conference of having multiple off-days between games in preparation for the stretch run.
“Right now, we’ve got to focus on ourselves, keep on trying to improve offensively, defensively. Hopefully Brook [Lopez] can get back healthy.”
Lopez missed Thursday’s game, just his second absence of the season and first since Dec. 5. The veteran center’s 15.5 points per game rank third on the Bucks behind Antetokounmpo’s 31.4 and Jrue Holiday’s 19.4.
Lopez was sidelined with an ankle injury against the Pacers, while Grayson Allen and Jae Crowder sat due to foot and calf injuries, respectively.
Sunday’s matchup is the first of two between Toronto and Milwaukee over the final three weeks of the regular season. They meet again in the regular-season finale on April 9.
The Raptors are winless against the Bucks in 2022-23, dropping a 130-122 decision in Milwaukee on Jan. 17, and a 104-101 overtime contest in Toronto on Jan. 4. VanVleet went for 39 points in the Jan. 17 loss, but Holiday’s 37 and 25 from Allen made the difference for the Bucks.
Antetokounmpo posted a 30-point, 21-rebound and 10-assist triple-double in the overtime meeting. VanVleet finished with 28 points and 12 assists in the loss.
–Field Level Media