The grueling month of December rolls on for the Bucks, as they head north of the border for a quick one-game road trip to face the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors currently sit at the top of the Atlantic division with a 14-9 record, which constitutes as the third seed in the resurging Eastern Conference. They are currently riding a modest two-game win streak, most recently with a victory over the San Antonio Spurs at home. In other words, the Bucks are in for a tough matchup. Let’s break down the game plan.
First, let’s begin with the Bucks. Milwaukee had their two-game win streak snapped at the hands of the Clippers and J.J. Redick’s magnificent performance on Wednesday night. Weak transition defense was the main cause of concern in that loss, as the Bucks allowed 19 points on the break to Los Angeles. Transition defense has always been a raising question for Milwaukee this season, as they always seem to be stagnant against the fast paced teams. Looking ahead to the matchup on Saturday against the Warriors, that category may be pretty ugly. Nonetheless, let’s get back to some of the other things we became aware of in the Bucks’ most recent game. You have to like Jason Kidd showing more and more trust in Rashad Vaughn and his capability of bringing assets to this team. He tied a season high in minutes per game against the Clippers, as he was out on the floor for 17 minutes. Although he went 0-2 from the court and his last made shot was back on December 2nd against the Spurs, it’s nice seeing him get his hands dirty and receiving some action. He won’t be taking any steps forward if he continues to sit on the pine and be a spectator. Continuing with the mantra of things we learned last game, Michael Carter-Williams continued to shine in his position off the bench. His 20 points matched a season high for him. His 56 percent in shooting on the night caught everybody’s attention as well. It seems as if he’s establishing a nice little floater that he can add to his arsenal. He has always had an ability to get past his defender and into the lane, and with a weapon like a floater, his offensive scoring opportunities will skyrocket.
Kyle Lowry is definitely the heart and soul of this Raptors team. His 22 points per game are the highest on the team, along with his 6.3 assists. He is averaging over 26 points in the month of December. Look for the Bucks to make an effort in eliminating as many scoring chances for Lowry as possible. DeMar DeRozan has done a terrific job of accompanying Lowry in the backcourt, as the duo have been averaging 49 points on 47.5 percent shooting in the five games played in the month of December.
One glaring stat that Toronto has to go along with its defense is that they are 2-6 when opponents hit ten or more three-pointers. Their record is 12-3 when they hold their opponent to nine or fewer threes. However, the Bucks have been able to take advantage of any poor defense on the road this season, as they have been outscored by an average of 17.9 points during their eight-game road skid.
Milwaukee definitely has its work cut out for them as they go up against a well-oiled machine in the Raptors. We hate to say it, but don’t be surprised if this game ends up being another blowout defeat on the road. However, hopefully Jason Kidd and the coaching staff have worked profoundly on making the proper adjustments that will be needed to escape Canada with a well-needed victory.