Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo target Raptors


February 18, 2021; Milwaukee, Wis., USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) shoots against Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) during the second quarter at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Giannis Antetokounmpo looks to continue his last stretch of offensive dominance as the Milwaukee Bucks host the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

The two-time MVP has been on a roll since Christmas, averaging 32.6 points, 11.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists over his last nine games. In those nine games, he also scored at least 30 points on seven occasions.

Milwaukee is coming off a 118-99 rout of the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and Antetokounmpo paced the Bucks with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists on 11 of 17 shooting to record his third triple-double this season.

Khris Middleton added 23 points, Bobby Portis added 20 and Grayson Allen finished with 15 to help the Bucks snap a brief two-game losing streak.

“At the end of the day, you come to a position where you’ve pretty much seen it all (defensively),” Antetokounmpo said. “But my mindset is always to try to be aggressive, to try to get down.”

The Bucks will be without Jrue Holiday on Saturday, who has missed the last four games with an ankle injury. Brook Lopez is also staying out as he continues to recover from back surgery, and Langston Galloway will be out due to health and safety protocol.

After shooting below 45% in a pair of losses to the Hornets, Milwaukee was much more effective against Golden State, going 44 for 86 (51.2%) from the field while going 18 of 41 (43.9 %) 3 points.

After a six-game winning streak, Toronto has now dropped back-to-back games after losing 103-87 to the Detroit Pistons on Friday.

Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 24 points, five rebounds and 10 assists. Pascal Siakam contributed 23 points and 11 rebounds on 8-of-17 shooting, and OG Anunoby had 16 points. Chris Boucher added 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.

The game took a bad turn early on as Khem Birch broke his nose early in the first quarter, forcing him out of the game.

“That probably took us out of offensive timing and fluidity a bit,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “Obviously we were really stuck in terms of movement offensively, we probably could have helped there, but that’s part of the game and we have to move on and respond to it a little better than we did. this evening.”

In addition to Birch, Gary Trent Jr. could miss Saturday’s contest with an ankle injury, and Goran Dragic remains out indefinitely for personal reasons.

On the bright side, VanVleet played some of his best basketball of the season in the month of January. The 6-foot-1 guard has scored at least 30 points in four of seven games this month and notched a triple-double on Jan. 7.

With a win, the Raptors could improve to over .500 on the road this season (currently 8-8). Toronto has struggled on the road lately, winning just one of its last five road games.

The Raptors had their fair share of success against Milwaukee, winning the first two games of the three-game season series. Both games were close, as Toronto averages just five points per game.

–Field level media

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