Toronto Raptors (-1, 198.5 o/u) at Milwaukee Bucks
After starting out the season on a tear, the Toronto Raptors (26-14, 10-7 away) have struggled of late, losing seven of their last nine games.
“We’re playing in mud right now,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.
In yesterday’s 95-93 home loss to New Orleans, it looked as though the team may emerge from its boggy slumber, scoring 35 points in the third quarter to take a seven-point lead. But Toronto gave up 31 in the fourth to the Anthony Davis-less Pelicans.
While DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points, and Amir Johnson added 14 for the Raptors, Terrence Ross failed to score a single point. Casey and company are hoping that this is rock bottom for the dynamic guard, who is hitting only 33.1% of his shots over the last dozen games.
“We’ve just got to be there for him the best way we can, help lift him, just like we do everybody else,” DeRozan said. “We’ve all been there, playing in this league, everybody’s been there in some type of way. We’ve just got to help him out the best way we can, and get him back on his feet. Once he gets rolling, it’s going to be something he definitely needed when he looks back at it.”
Up next for the Raptors is an away game at the Milwaukee Bucks (21-19, 9-8 home), who are dealing with issues of their own.
The Jason Kidd-coached team has dealt with multiple key injuries in the first half of the season. First, rookie Jabari Parker was lost for the season with an ACL tear; then, last week, Kendall Marshall suffered the same injury in a win over the Knicks in London.
“We’ll play the 11 that we have and we’ll go from there,” Kidd said. “Kendall brought a lot to the table for us, being able to anchor that second group, keep the ball moving and post up, too.”
There was more bad news for the Bucks last week when it was announced that center Larry Sanders would be serving a ten-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program.
Despite all the issues, Kidd has kept the Bucks playing decent ball. Milwaukee was predicted to duke it out with the Pistons at the bottom of the Central Division this year. Instead, they sit second (behind Chicago), half a game up on the Cavaliers. Their continued competitiveness has seen their NBA Title odds jump significantly.
Even though the Bucks have personnel issues, the Raptors are in a tailspin. That’s why the home Bucks and the points (+1) is the play.
(Photo credit: Philadelphia 76ers (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/legalcode].)