Bucks-Raptors Preview

Despite being 15 games below .500, the Milwaukee Bucks still

have a chance to earn a playoff berth. They would be in better

position to get one if they weren’t closing games so poorly of

late.

Before a key matchup with the team they’re chasing for the

Eastern Conference’s final postseason spot, the Bucks continue

their three-game trip Wednesday night when they face the Toronto

Raptors.

This road swing ends Friday against Indiana, which is three

games ahead of 10th-place Milwaukee (29-44) for eighth in the East.

The Bucks fell two games behind ninth-place Charlotte with an 87-86

loss to the Bobcats on Monday.

That defeat resulted from another late meltdown. After giving up

the final 12 points in Saturday’s 95-87 home loss to Chicago, the

Bucks did not have a field goal in the final 5:10 on Monday and

went scoreless in the last 3:52.

“It was a must-win game and we came up short,” said Brandon

Jennings, who finished with 26 points but missed 10 of 12 shots in

the fourth. “We had chances to do it and I take it on myself that I

should have came up down the stretch and made big plays. But I

didn’t.”

Milwaukee has led in the fourth quarter of each of its last four

losses.

While the Bucks have shot below 40 percent from the field in

their last two games and are last in the league at 42.7, they have

shot 50.6 percent in two meetings with the Raptors this season and

won both.

Toronto (20-53) is among the NBA’s worst teams defensively,

allowing 105.6 points per game on 48.3 percent shooting.

Milwaukee had its highest-scoring game of the season in its only

trip to Toronto, winning 116-110 in overtime Jan. 28.

The Raptors return home following a 1-4 trip that ended with

Saturday’s 94-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. Toronto, which

fell behind by 40 points in defeats to Denver and Golden State

during the western swing, dropped its fourth straight Saturday

after leading by 10 with 8:27 left.

“We’re not moving the ball that well,” coach Jay Triano said.

“… Teams are going to play zone against us, so the ball has to go

inside and side-to-side. We’re a team that sometimes holds the

ball. And when you do that, the zone can match up.”

Toronto could find it even more difficult to create offense if

leading scorer Andrea Bargnani sits a second straight game with a

sore right ankle.

Rookie Ed Davis, though, has shown steady improvement since

missing the first 17 games of the season following knee surgery. He

posted his second consecutive double-double Saturday with a

career-best 21 points and 11 rebounds.

“I’m still fresh because I missed training camp – it’s only my

56th game,” Davis told the Raptors’ official website.

Davis could see plenty of time against Bucks center Andrew

Bogut, averaging 22.7 points and 13.0 boards in his last three road

games. He had 24 points in the Jan. 28 victory in Toronto.

Milwaukee has won six of eight versus the Raptors and now looks

to win three straight in the series for the first time since the

2003-04 season.