Raptors will be ready for Bucks mentally . . . but physically?

15 April, 2017, 02:36 | Author: Douglas Reid
  • Rapt Attention: Lowry's Back

They'll get their wish at the conclusion of Wednesday's finale at home against the Toronto Raptors, whom they could face in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Toronto Raptors have four key players entering free agency this summer and the biggest of them all is starting point guard Kyle Lowry.

And now it starts for real.

"I'm prepared for it, " DeRozan said of what scheme the Bucks throw at him.

He came back April 5 against Detroit, the first of four games for Lowry to get his feet wet.

"For me, my measuring stick doesn't happen until Saturday". The team was feeling the post-season buzz, he said.

In the season finale Wednesday night in Cleveland, he played in the first half. Couldn't wait to come in today.

This is one of the most tormented franchises in the league, and in a year where they might be able to accomplish something, I think it's important to show them some love.

DeRozan liked how his team improved, rallied when Lowry missed 21 games following wrist surgery, how the Raptors maintained, and to some extent, improved, their team chemistry when Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker were acquired.

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The latter is in serious contention for the Rookie of the Year Award, having averaged 10.2 points and 4.2 assists for the season. "Every game, it's like, 'Oh, the playoffs - if we lose this, we're not going to make the playoffs.'. That's our mentality this time around". DeMar DeRozan is averaging 27.3 points and 5.2 rebounds while Kyle Lowry is averaging 22.4 points and seven assists. "It's still hard", Lowry said. By the NBA's count, there's 54 - including some with dual citizenship like Cleveland's Kyrie Irving - from 28 different countries set to appear in these playoffs. Not to say the All-Star guard has fallen far from the mark set a year ago, but it was an exceptional campaign that is hard to rival.

As the world's foremost Terrence Ross supporter, I can't describe how sad I am that Ross won't get the chance to take on the Bucks in the playoffs.

Not since the days of Vinsanity has the franchise seen a player produce so much on the offensive end, DeRozan among the top-five scorers in the National Basketball Association, one of the best at drawing contact and getting to the line, by far the best Raptor not named Vince Carter.

Game 1 between the Raptors and Bucks begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One. "We had a lot of challenges this year, but I do like the direction and the path that we're headed".

"I'm definitely confident in this team, but you never like having to think that you have to flip a switch". "That's why you work extremely hard, why you pay attention, why you study the game and find ways to be better, so you don't be in the same position". It put DeRozan squarely in the crosshairs of other teams' defences.

At times, teams pack the paint, trying to deny driving lanes for DeRozan, send an extra defender at him, force him baseline, whatever the scheme, opponents have gone deep into their defensive tool box to contain DeRozan.

"We've been fighting uphill for the last two or three games and that is something we wanted to make sure we fixed when we came out", Casey said. "And his compete level, you've got to match his compete level to play against him".

Outside of his transition forays, Antetokounmpo's most frequent method of attacking an opposing defense (pick-and-rolls) and most successful (post ups) will likely be exposed by this Toronto team. The trend continued in another seven-game series win against the Miami Heat in the second round, when Lowry shot 19-for-49 from three, and 40.1 percent from the field. The Bucks won a league-best 14 games in March, including a 101-94 victory over Toronto on March 4.

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