If there was ever a time to send a message to a team, that time would be now for the Raptors against the Bucks. The Raptors are trying to catch the Bucks for the 8th playoff spot in the East and with 3 straight wins and a couple of Bucks losses, things are starting to come within view.
The Bucks have lost Michael Redd for the season and since he went down with injury, the Bucks have lost both games and are 5-11 when he hasn’t played this season. Add that to the Bucks relying on RJ (who hasn’t done anything against the Raptors this season) to pick up some of the slack and you would think that the Raptors would be relishing the opportunity to pick up another game and win their 4th in a row.
The Raptors certainly could benefit from the win (as always), but it would be a great team building statement to get that 4th win in a row, showing that they are still serious about making the most out of the season. Since Jose’s return to the lineup, the Raptors have looked like a more serious team, using their resources to the best of their ability and concentrating for a full 48 minutes.
The Bucks are starting to look like a team that is pretty beaten up. Redd is gone for the season, Bogut is still having his back spasms and has been day to day for what appears to be the whole season so far and now Luke Ridnour (who miraculously hit those 3’s last time the Raps faced them) has a mild concussion, but is expected to play. The thing about having those injuries is that those are three injuries to key guys on the Bucks. Those aren’t scrubs we are talking about, those are guys who prominently figure into how the Bucks operate. There should be some holes that the Raptors are able to exploit.
The bad news for the Raptors is that Charlie V has looked like he feels like playing in 2009. Charlie has done a good job against the Raptors and in January he has nine 20+ point games. He has started the last eight games has averaged 22.0 points and 8.3 rebounds with four double-doubles. Sounds like Charlie V is on one of his “feel like playing hard” cycles. Let’s hope we see the other half of that cycle against the Raptors.
3 in the Key
1. Keep the turnovers low. The Bucks have forced their last two opponents into a total of 43 turnovers and their opponents have nine games with 20 or more turnovers this season.
2. Don’t let RJ heat up. It’s tough to think we will see RJ play poorly again against the Raptors. With Redd out, the ball should be flowing through him a little more and the Raptors can’t afford to let him get hot.
3. Don’t fall in love with the jumper on the offensive end. The Bucks are short and hurting, so keep attacking the basket.