The Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks met in last season's Eastern Conference finals but only one of the teams retained its best player. Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will lead the Bucks into Saturday's game against the visiting Raptors, who lost NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard after he led the club to its first title.
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Leonard led Toronto to a six-game series win over the Bucks in the East and now sidekick Pascal Siakam is showing signs of being the star with three 30-point outings and averages of 28 points and 9.2 rebounds through five games. "I feel comfortable," Siakam told reporters after scoring 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting in Wednesday's 125-113 home win over the Detroit Pistons. "The more I get in situations like that, the more comfortable I get. Just having the coach (Nick Nurse) trust me to have the ball in my hands, and my teammates also, it feels good." Antetokounmpo has opened the season with five straight double-doubles and he had 29 points and 14 rebounds in Friday's 123-91 road trouncing of the Orlando Magic to raise his averages to 24.8 points and 13.6 rebounds. "We came out and played hard and played together and defended well," Antetokounmpo said afterward. "Everybody was pretty upset from the previous loss we had against Boston so you could see we had extra juice and we need to build off it."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FS Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (4-1): While Siakam is taking advantage of Leonard's departure as a free agent, third-year-pro OG Anunoby is receiving 34.8 minutes per game and averaging 12.4 points and 7.4 rebounds. "It really opened up a big opportunity for OG to fill a role," Nurse told reporters, "and I'm happy he's in there and doing it and looking tough and valuable for our team." Fellow forward Serge Ibaka is playing well off the bench and he scored 19 points against Detroit to increase his scoring average to 14.4.
ABOUT THE BUCKS (3-2): Point guard Eric Bledsoe scored a season-best 18 points and also recorded six rebounds and six assists in the easy win over Orlando. Bledsoe shot 37.5 percent from the field or less in each of the first four games before making 8-of-15 against the Magic. "It's early, it's still a long season," Bledsoe said afterward while downplaying his performance. "We've got a good win going back home and now he have to focus on Toronto."
1. The Bucks have won four of the past five regular-season meetings.
2. Toronto PG Kyle Lowry has four 20-point outings while averaging 21.6 points.
3. Backup SG Donte DiVincenzo made four 3-pointers against Orlando as Milwaukee made 17-of-47 attempts.
News Breaking News
Key Players to Watch
- ShinLate Dec | out
Bledsoe suffered a right fibula avulsion fracture and is likely to be out of the line up for two weeks.
- AnkleQues Mon | questionable
Bender has been absent from the lineup during the past four games with a right ankle sprain, and it is unclear if he will be a participant in Monday's tilt against the Mavericks.
- BackProb Sat | probable
Korver sat out the last game due to a sore back, but it is projected that he will suit up against the Cavaliers on Saturday.
- QuadricepQues Sat | questionable
Antetokounmpo is suffering from right quadriceps soreness, and it is unclear if he will take the court against the Cavaliers on Saturday.
- QuadricepProb Fri | probable
Antetokounmpo sat out the previous game due to soreness in his right quadriceps. It is likely he will suit up against the Grizzlies on Friday.
- ShoulderQues Wed | questionable
Brown has missed the last three games with a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder, and it remains to be seen if he will return Wednesday versus the Pistons.
- BackProb Wed | probable
Lopez sat his second straight game due to a sore back, but he is expected to suit up against the Pistons on Wednesday.
- FluProb Mon | probable
Antetokounmpo has missed the last three games with a stomach bug, but is expected to be available for Monday's contest against the Kicks.
- GroinLate Dec | out
Johnson has a stress reaction in his left groin and is expected to be out until at least the end of December.
- KneeQues Mon | questionable
VanVleet has sat out the last three games due to a right knee contusion, and it is unclear if he will be available for Monday's tilt versus the Cavaliers.
- KneeProb Wed | probable
McCaw is recovering from arthroscopic surgery to remove a benign mass on the back of his left knee. He is expected to return to action Wednesday versus the Clippers.
- ThumbProb Tues | probable
Lowry has been recovering from a fracture of the distal phalanx in his left thumb. He is progressing in his recovery and is expected to return to action Tuesday against the Heat.
- AnkleProb Sun | probable
Ibaka suffered a sprained right ankle, but he is projected to return against the Jazz on Sunday.
- ThumbProb Sun | probable
Hernandez sat out his fourth straight game due to a sprained right thumb, but he is likely to draw back into the lineup Sunday versus the Jazz.