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.
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Key Players to Watch
- HeadProb Thurs | probable
Korver was absent from the lineup during the previous game with a head contusion, but he is likely to be available Thursday versus the Bulls.
- ThighEarly Dec | out
Middleton is sidelined with a left thigh contusion and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
- AnkleProb Mon | probable
Matthews sustained an ankle injury in the last game, but he is expected to line up Monday against the Timberwolves.
- ShoulderProb Sat | probable
Connaughton is battling a right shoulder strain but is expected to play against the Raptors on Saturday.
- RestOut Fri | out
Korver will not play Friday against the Magic due to a day of rest.
- AnkleOut indefinitely | out
Ibaka is suffering from a sprained right ankle, and it is undetermined how much time he will miss.
- ThumbLate Nov | out
Lowry has a fracture of the distal phalanx in his left thumb, and he is expected to miss at least two weeks of action.
- EyeProb Sat | probable
Anunoby suffered a right eye contusion but is expected to be in Saturday's lineup versus the Mavericks.
- KneeEarly Dec | out
McCaw is recovering from arthroscopic surgery to remove a benign mass on the back of his left knee. He is expected to miss at least four weeks of action.
- Groinday-to-day | questionable
Hollis-Jefferson is dealing with groin soreness and did not play in the previous game. It is not expected to impede his status for Sunday's game against the Lakers.