It will be a showdown of two teams looking to regain their winning ways Tuesday night when the Toronto Raptors visit the Milwaukee Bucks for the opener of a two-game set.
The Bucks will return home for an eight-game stretch after losing their third straight game, 114-109 to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, despite the fourth triple-double of the season from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 24 points and 17 rebounds. and 10 assists. The loss completed a 3-3 road trip for the Bucks, and the losing streak is the longest of the season.
The Bucks had their lowest-scoring half of the season on Sunday when they entered intermission with a 52-41 deficit despite a 13-3 start.
“After the first two or three minutes of the game, we had a pretty ugly half,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We just weren’t very good.”
Milwaukee came back to take an 86-83 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma City responded with an 11-3 run.
The Raptors were rocked Sunday by a 116-112 loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves at their temporary home in Tampa. The Raptors, who lost to the Boston Celtics on Thursday to complete a 4-2 trip, had beaten the Timberwolves in 16 straight home games since January 21, 2004.
The Raptors had a chance to tie the game with 7.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Pascal Siakam missed a layup.
“It seemed like it played out exactly the way we wanted it to,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We made a detour play and cleared that whole area for Pascal and he got right where he wanted to go, and it was a shame he just rolled.”
The Raptors at 12-15 are in a tougher position than the Bucks at 16-11.
“We understand that we cannot allow those games to be given away,” said Kyle Lowry, who led the Raptors with 24 points Sunday. “We’re three games under .500 and we could be six games over .500. It’s a small difference.”
These teams are used to success in recent seasons, and the Raptors defeated the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals two years ago on their way to winning the NBA championship.
After the Bucks lost Sunday, Antetokounmpo said the team needs to improve its defense at the end of games.
“We know our plays, we know what to do down the stretch, we are smart enough to figure it out,” Antetokounmpo said. “But we have to make stops. It’s about getting stops. If you don’t have stops, you can’t win. You have to be able, down the stretch, to make two, three stops in a row to succeed and win a close match. It’s about offense. The offense is going to take care of itself. It’s about getting saves. “
Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists on January 27 when the Bucks defeated the Raptors 115-108 in Tampa in the first meeting of the season between the teams.
The Raptors were without OG Anunoby (left calf strain) for the 10th straight game on Sunday, and he is listed as doubtful for Tuesday.
The Bucks were without Jrue Holiday Sunday for the fourth straight game due to COVID-19 protocols.
Holiday is averaging 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.
–Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.