Monday, March 1

Raptors aim to sweep two-game set against Bucks

The Toronto Raptors will look for a two-game sweep, this time possibly without Kyle Lowry, when the NBA schedule gives host Milwaukee Bucks a rematch in a nationally televised game Thursday night.

The Raptors went small and went big in a 124-113 win at Milwaukee on Tuesday that featured 33 points from Fred VanVleet and 23 from Pascal Siakam.

Lowry contributed 18 in just 22 minutes before ending the night early in the third quarter due to a sore left ankle. It is listed as questionable for the rematch.

The veteran sprained his ankle in the first half, went to the locker room, then was able to return to start the third quarter.

But less than four minutes later, it was clear that he was not in shape to finish the game.

Lowry went with the score tied at 74, after which the Raptors were able to overtake the Bucks, who lost the worst fourth season in a row.

VanVleet wasn’t surprised to see how his team responded to adversity.

“Every time a man goes down, it’s that next man up mentality that we’ve always had here,” he noted. “Something I’ve tried to keep doing is increasing my level of play when he’s out. I thought the whole team improved him a bit when he fell. That’s what you like to see.”

Chris Boucher contributed 14 points, OG Anunoby had 13 and Norman Powell 11 as the Raptors came to a 115-108 home loss to the Bucks three weeks earlier.

Aron Baynes had started in the middle in the first game, scoring 11 points but posting a minus-12 over / under in 23 minutes. He was replaced by the smaller Anunoby in the rematch and played just 18 minutes off the bench, posting four points and a minus-3 over / under.

Boucher, who was called for 30 minutes from the bench Tuesday, is a candidate to start the rematch in case Lowry can’t go.

Despite playing a smaller lineup, the Raptors were able to reverse a 59-46 rebounding deficit from the first game. Siakam grabbed 13 rebounds and Toronto won the battle of the tables 44-41 the second time.

The Raptors also used their greater speed to reach the free throw line 21 times Tuesday, nine more than in the previous loss.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points as part of a double-double in the loss, scoring 10 more points than he had in the victory. But Khris Middleton was limited to 11 points and Brook Lopez to nine in the rematch after they combined for 44 points the first time.

The Bucks played without Jrue Holiday, who missed his fifth straight game on the COVID-19 protocol. He is eligible to play on Thursday.

With or without Holiday, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after Tuesday’s loss that the focus of the rematch would be the same as in any other game.

“You have to go to work the next day,” he insisted. “We have to watch the movie. We have to go to practice. We have to see where we can improve. Nobody is happy with the result. Nobody feels good about it.”

–Field level media

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