MILWAUKEE — Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors will be shorthanded for their preseason finale Friday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The Bucks will be without starting point guard Brandon Knight for the second straight game due to a sore left hamstring, while starting small forward Caron Butler will sit out Friday with a left ankle sprain.
Bucks coach Larry Drew was worried Butler twisted his ankle during Wednesday night’s exhibition game against New York, but the veteran finished the game without issue. The right ankle swelled up on him Thursday, and Butler spent Friday getting treatment.
John Henson will start at power forward, while Khris Middleton will slide down to his natural position of small forward against the Raptors. Luke Ridnour will again start for Knight at point guard. Veteran Zaza Pachulia will start for the Bucks at center Friday, as the status of starting center Larry Sanders was uncertain a half hour before the game.
Drew is hopeful Knight and Butler will be ready to go when the Bucks open the regular season Wednesday in New York.
“Some guys have some days in between to kind of mend a little bit,” Drew said. “Hopefully we can get those guys back by Wednesday.”
Ersan Ilyasova is making progress in his return from a sprained right ankle, but Drew still isn’t expecting to have his starting power forward for the season opener.
“He was actually moving around the court yesterday, took some shot, so that’s a good sign,” Drew said. “Hopefully he will just continue to improve. If he continues to improve, we’ll be ecstatic when we get him back, but we don’t want to rush him.”
Toronto will be without former Marquette star Steve Novak, starting center Jonas Valanciunas and starting point guard Kyle Lowry against the Bucks. Novak said he strained a ligament in his right thumb in a collision with Knicks forward Metta World Peace in an exhibition game Monday night.
“His legs are good, he’ll be ready to go next week for the opener,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Probably if he had to play tonight he could go, but then we would be taking the chance of him getting hit, and clearly get it well for next week by sitting him out.
“We know who he is, and know what he is going to do, and this gives an opportunity for some other guys to get some playing time.”
Lowry suffered a left ring finger tendon injury Wednesday night against Memphis, while Valanciunas has a chin laceration from a Zach Randolph elbow in the same game. Guard Julyan Stone will sit out Friday with a hip injury.