Bucks, Raptors will have top players on floor for this meeting

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks face the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks face the Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks will be going with their best this time -- Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, respectively.

The first time the teams met in Milwaukee on Oct. 29, neither played as the Bucks defeated to Raptors 124-109 to win their seventh straight game to open the season.


The teams meet again Sunday in Toronto, and both are expected to play.

"I think it's intriguing in general just because they are both going to want to go at each other a little bit," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Saturday. "Guard each other and go at each other and, while we don't want it to be a personal battle, I'm assuming there will be a little personal-ness going on between them.

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"I would imagine both of them are going to be excited to play and play with a lot of energy and force and try to get a lot of things done. They are both talked about (as being) among the best players in the East, both are in MVP talks now, so I think this is a game for them to see what happens."


Both teams are coming off losses. The Raptors fell 106-105 in overtime on Friday night at Brooklyn to the Nets, who ended an eight-game losing streak.

"We put ourselves in a tough position in the first place," said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who had three points on 1-of-8 shooting and 11 assists. "Not rebounding, they outrebounded us (60-41). Everybody was missing shots.

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"But we just have to keep playing hard. I think we can do a little bit better job of coverages and we need to play a little bit harder."

The Bucks lost 105-95 at home Friday to the Golden State Warriors.

"Offensively, I think we can be better," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "We didn't move very well or play with very much force. Just we weren't very good tonight offensively. But I think you have to give their defense credit. They make things difficult on you. I think we'll learn from both ends of the court."

The Bucks added two players, guard George Hill and center Jason Smith in trades involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Washington Wizards.


Milwaukee traded point guard Matthew Dellavedova and center John Henson along with their 2021 first- and second-round draft picks to Cleveland for Hill and Sam Dekker. Then Dekker was traded to the Wizards for Smith and a 2021 second-round pick. The new Bucks are not expected to play Sunday.

Budenholzer was an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs while Hill, 32, played there from 2008 to 2011.

"We're really excited about adding him," Budenholzer said. "Just another guard that can kind of play both positions. Attack off the dribble. Shoots the 3-pointer at a high percentage. Defensively, I think he can guard multiple positions. I've been around him a lot. So there's a great comfort level with me. The human is off the charts."

Antetokounmpo said, "He's a great point guard, he can find guys. I don't think he's scared -- he's been in the league for so long. ... I know he's a good person, also, so it's good to have a team with a lot of talent and good people around. It's going to be nice getting to know George Hill even more and playing with him."


As for Smith, 32, Budenholzer said he is "somebody who has done a lot of good things in the league and fits how we play."

Antetokounmpo, who missed the first game against Toronto because of concussion protocol, scored 22 points on 8-of-13 (.615) shooting Friday, grabbed 15 rebounds and added five assists. It was his 10th game this season with 20 or more points and 15 or more rebounds, which tops the NBA.

Leonard scored 32 points Friday on 10-of-21 (.476) shooting. He has scored 30 or more points in four of his past five games and 30 or more points in eight games this season overall.

Leonard, who was rested Oct. 29 for the first game of a back-to-back set, is averaging 33.2 points and shooting .532 (58 of 109) from the field, including .500 (17 of 34) from 3-point range in his past five games.

Meanwhile, Lowry, who has been an important part of Toronto's early-season success, is shooting only 5 of 27 (.185) from 3-point range in his past five games.

"Missing shots; have to play better," Lowry said. "I don't make excuses and I don't have any excuses to make. I'm just not playing well. So it's as simple as that. I have to play better.


"I hold myself to a high standard and I have to play better. As the leader of this team, I have to figure out how to play a lot better offensively."

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