Despite being 15 games below .500, the Milwaukee Bucks still have a chance to earn a playoff berth. They would be in better position to get one if they weren’t closing games so poorly of late.
Before a key matchup with the team they’re chasing for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason spot, the Bucks continue their three-game trip Wednesday night when they face the Toronto Raptors.
This road swing ends Friday against Indiana, which is three games ahead of 10th-place Milwaukee (29-44) for eighth in the East. The Bucks fell two games behind ninth-place Charlotte with an 87-86 loss to the Bobcats on Monday.
That defeat resulted from another late meltdown. After giving up the final 12 points in Saturday’s 95-87 home loss to Chicago, the Bucks did not have a field goal in the final 5:10 on Monday and went scoreless in the last 3:52.
“It was a must-win game and we came up short,” said Brandon Jennings(notes), who finished with 26 points but missed 10 of 12 shots in the fourth. “We had chances to do it and I take it on myself that I should have came up down the stretch and made big plays. But I didn’t.”
Milwaukee has led in the fourth quarter of each of its last four losses.
While the Bucks have shot below 40 percent from the field in their last two games and are last in the league at 42.7, they have shot 50.6 percent in two meetings with the Raptors this season and won both.
Toronto (20-53) is among the NBA’s worst teams defensively, allowing 105.6 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting.
Milwaukee had its highest-scoring game of the season in its only trip to Toronto, winning 116-110 in overtime Jan. 28.
The Raptors return home following a 1-4 trip that ended with Saturday’s 94-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Toronto, which fell behind by 40 points in defeats to Denver and Golden State during the western swing, dropped its fourth straight Saturday after leading by 10 with 8:27 left.
“We’re not moving the ball that well,” coach Jay Triano said. “… Teams are going to play zone against us, so the ball has to go inside and side-to-side. We’re a team that sometimes holds the ball. And when you do that, the zone can match up.”
Rookie Ed Davis(notes), though, has shown steady improvement since missing the first 17 games of the season following knee surgery. He posted his second consecutive double-double Saturday with a career-best 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m still fresh because I missed training camp - it’s only my 56th game,” Davis told the Raptors’ official website.
Milwaukee has won six of eight versus the Raptors and now looks to win three straight in the series for the first time since the 2003-04 season.