With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined, Bucks bid to jolt Raptors
Posted on: 15 Nov, 2023 at 08:07 PM
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Milwaukee Bucks will be without star Giannis Antetokounmpo for the first time this season on Wednesday when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
Antetokounmpo initially was listed as probable to play due to a strained right calf. He was ruled out Wednesday afternoon.
The two-time NBA MVP boasts team-leading averages in points (29.5) and rebounds (9.6) to go along with 3.6 assists in 10 games this season.
The Bucks will look to overcome his absence in the rematch versus the Raptors. They were dominated 130-111 on their first visit of the season to Toronto on Nov. 1.
Both teams go into Wednesday's game after winning on Monday.
The Raptors returned from a 2-2 road trip and opened a four-game homestand with a 111-107 comeback victory over the Washington Wizards after trailing by 23 points.
The Bucks, who had lost their previous two games, defeated the visiting Chicago Bulls 118-109.
In their game against Washington, the Raptors still trailed by 15 points early in the fourth quarter and finished the game on a 21-1 run.
Pascal Siakam hit the go-ahead basket with eight seconds to play and finished with a season-best 39 points -- 29 in the second half.
It was the fourth-largest comeback in franchise history and the team's second largest fourth-quarter comeback.
The Raptors overcame a 22-point deficit to defeat the host San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 5.
Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic awarded the team's "person-of-the-game" chain to Chris Boucher.
Boucher provided a spark from the bench with seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
"Chris was unbelievable," Siakam said. "Chris's energy, whatever he brought to the game, he was blocking shots, finishing in transition, just playing solid basketball. Just his energy, I thought he deserved it for sure."
"(Boucher) was ready to go out there," Rajakovic said. "It's a long season. All the guys are going to be in rotation, out of rotation, starting, not starting.
They've got to stay ready and that's why tonight the chain went to Chris Boucher."
At halftime with the Raptors down 19 points, Rajakovic told his team to focus on more than the score.
"I told them, 'I don't expect you to go out there and win the game, but I expect you to go out there and play with joy, play with fun and compete at a much higher level,'" Rajakovic said.
The Raptors were without OG Anunoby (lacerated finger) and Gary Trent Jr. (plantar fasciitis).
In addition to Antetokounmpo, the Bucks will be without another key player on Wednesday. Jae Crowder is having surgery to repair a left adductor and abdominal tear.
Crowder left the loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday and is expected to be out for about eight weeks.
"Obviously it's going to be hard not to have him," Antetokounmpo said after beating the Bulls. "His presence is very important to the team. He's extremely vocal, helps everybody be in the right position, encourages everybody, motivates everybody.
"At the same time, he's had a great start to the season spacing out the floor for us, being great defensively, making great plays offensively."
Antetokounmpo had 35 points and 11 rebounds on Monday, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter.
"He was phenomenal the whole game and we needed him down the stretch and he kind of took things in his own hands," said Bucks coach Adrian Griffin, a former Raptors assistant coach. "We need someone to make the plays down the stretch. We got a little bit stagnant. We were kind of standing and watching, and we just have to keep executing, but he was able to put his head down and get to the rim and get to the free throw line and that's what you need down the stretch."
--Field Level Media