Game Preview: Raptors vs Bucks

Holly MacKenzie -

Toronto Raptors (6-0) @ Milwaukee Bucks (6-0)

When: Monday, October 29th, 8 P.M. ET

Where: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee

 Leading into tonight:

Injury Report: For the Raptors, head coach Nick Nurse said that the Raptors are expecting Delon Wright (left adductor strain) and OG Anunoby (personal reasons) to play against the Bucks on Monday. Fred VanVleet (sprained left big toe) said that he was a partial participant in Sunday’s practice and is questionable for Monday’s game. The injury report for the Bucks is to be announced.

Monday’s contest will feature the last two undefeated teams in the NBA facing off against one another. The Raptors and Bucks enter Monday’s game with identical 6-0 records — Toronto’s latest win was a home victory against the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee’s was a home victory against the Orlando Magic — and both are keen to keep their undefeated streak going. 

Double-double: Friday’s victory against the Mavericks brought another double-double for Kyle Lowry who finished with 20 points and 12 assists without a turnover. Lowry is leading the league in assists, averaging 10.3 dimes per game. Most impressive, he is averaging 10.3 assists to just 2.3 turnovers to go along with 19.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per contest. “He works his butt off extremely hard every summer,” Fred VanVleet said about Lowry’s hot start. “I was joking with him the other day about leading the league in assists.” Lowry is also a steal away from tying Doug Christie as the franchise leader in career steals. He has 663 steals in 437 games, including a career-best 158 steals during the 2015-16 season.

Extra Assists

Back-to-back: Monday’s game will kick off a road and home back-to-back for the Raptors. It will be just the team’s second road game of the season, with Toronto being the lone team in the NBA to play five of its first six games at home. After Monday’s game in Milwaukee, the team will immediately head back to Toronto where they will take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at Scotiabank Arena at 7:30 P.M. ET.

JV rolling: Head coach Nick Nurse has split centre duties between Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka to start the season and both are excelling with the change. Valanciunas had 17 points and eight rebounds in Toronto’s victory against the Dallas Mavericks. He is averaging 16.5 points over his last four games. Through six games, Valanciunas is averaging 12.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.2 minutes per game. When he isn’t in the game, Ibaka takes over. In six games, Ibaka is averaging 14.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 27.8 minutes.

Slowing things down: Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 25 points, 14.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.7 blocks per game for the Bucks. “He’s bigger and stronger than ever,” Nick Nurse said. It’s impossible to stop a player of Antetokounmpo’s skill level entirely, but the Raptors will be trying to eliminate his opportunities in the open floor. “The biggest thing with him is somehow stopping the freight train in transition,” Nurse said. “The floor is spread, and its just literally like James [Harden] and him, they just keep coming, they’re going through your numbers. You’ve got to stand there and take it or send multiple people and hope you can slow him down. That’s the biggest thing.”

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