Bucks-Raptors Preview

The Associated Press

The Toronto Raptors snapped a 10-game skid against the Milwaukee Bucks earlier this season.

They will probably like their chances even more of ending a five-game home slide in the series Monday night when they try to hand the NBA's worst team a sixth straight defeat.

Toronto (18-17) spoiled Milwaukee's home opener with a 97-90 victory Nov. 2. Rudy Gay led the way with 18 points and 15 rebounds as the Raptors posted their first win in the series since Jan. 22, 2010.

Gay was dealt Dec. 9 to Sacramento and Toronto is 11-4 since the majority of the players in that deal made their club debuts four days later.

"I think John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and also Chuck Hayes and also Greivis (Vasquez) have brought an air of toughness to add to our guys' growth," coach Dwane Casey said.

Toronto seeks its first five-game home win streak since Dec. 14, 2012-Jan. 2, 2013. The Raptors will try to complete a 3-0 homestand after Saturday's 96-80 win over Brooklyn.

DeMar DeRozan scored 26 to raise his average to 22.3 during a 7-2 surge for Toronto. The hard-working DeRozan covers 2.6 miles per game to rank among the league leaders.

"We gotta take advantage of those fans out there because they're definitely behind us," DeRozan said. "They are our sixth man and we need them, they definitely get us going."

Milwaukee (7-29) continues to go in the opposite direction following Saturday's 101-85 loss at Oklahoma City.

A bright spot for the Bucks was Greek rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo, who posted his second double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and also had an eye-popping dunk for Milwaukee's first points 5:23 into the contest.

The Bucks fought gamely and took the lead in the third quarter before the superior Thunder took over.

"We played hard, I think people can feel it and see that we played hard," Antetokounmpo said. "We have to just keep trying."

Another foreign-born rookie Milwaukee coach Larry Drew is giving minutes to is Miroslav Raduljica, a Serbian center who has totaled 19 points and eight rebounds in his last two contests. Raduljica did not see action the first time these teams met.

"He's been very productive," Drew said. "When he's in the game, a lot of things happen. He knows how to throw his big body around down low."

Raduljica will match up with Jonas Valanciunas in the middle. The Toronto center and frontcourt mate Amir Johnson have helped the Raptors yield 99.6 points per 100 possessions to rank among the league's best defenses.

Another unheralded key to Toronto's success is the steady play of Kyle Lowry, who averages 90.2 touches and 70.9 passes to rank fourth in those departments entering play Sunday. That ranks much higher than point guard counterpart Brandon Knight, who averages 77.2 touches and 55.6 passes although he plays 6.4 minutes fewer per contest than Lowry.

Milwaukee's 45-23 record in the all-time series is its best against any opponent.

What to Read Next