Brace yourselves, the playoffs are coming and the Raptors are looking to defend the North.
While the regular season is not over yet, the matchup between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks is set in the first round of the Eastern Conference in the 2017 NBA Playoffs. This matchup is one to watch. You got the All-Stars. Giannis, Lowry, and DeRozan all in the same series so expect lots of pretty good basketball in this series.
So what should we look out for in the series? Who are the X-Factors on both teams? Who has the most pressure? Start the 2017 NBA playoffs preview!
Players to watch for Toronto – Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan
It’s no secret that Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are Toronto’s best players. The starting backcourt reached the All-Star game this season and have helped Toronto get to the third seed in the East. The two’s inconsistent playoff performances, however, have left fans worrying about their primetime ability. This might result in the two having a chip on their shoulder once the playoffs come around. DeRozan has impressed with his scoring, despite missing a three-point shot in his arsenal.
Lowry has been equally impressive as well, showcasing his all-around game for the Raptors. If Lowry and DeRozan play like they can during these playoffs, it would be tough to stop the Toronto Raptors.
Player(s) to watch for Milwaukee – Giannis Antetokounmpo
The Greek Freak has surpassed expectations this season. Giannis has led the Bucks in most, if not all major statistical categories for the team in his breakout season. Antetokounmpo has got it done on both ends of the floor, averaging nearly 23 points and 5 assists while averaging nearly 9 boards and around 2 steals/blocks per game. If it weren’t for Giannis, the Bucks might not even be at this position. The “7foot PG” will look to continue his amazing season by having a solid playoff run.
Video via FreeDawkins
X-Factor for Toronto: Serge Ibaka
Toronto made a power move at the deadline when they traded for Ibaka. Serge has been what Toronto needed him to be, stretching the floor (nearly 40% shooting from 3 with Toronto) and providing a defensive spark (1.4 BPG). With Valanciunas dominating the paint, a player like Serge helps a lot with floor spacing and that gives Toronto an added level of versatility that makes them dangerous.
X-Factor for Milwaukee: Khris Middleton
Middleton missed most of the year with an injury and his return has certainly helped the Bucks out a lot. His return helped the Bucks out on the perimeter, averaging 43% from distance. When Jabari Parker went down, they needed another consistent scorer and Middleton’s return did just that for them. If the Bucks want to upset the Raptors, they’re gonna have to count on Khris Middleton getting buckets.
Video via FreeDawkins
Team with more to lose: The Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are definitely the team with more pressure between the two in this playoffs. While Toronto doesn’t have the same expectations as a team like Cleveland, they have been under fire when it comes to the playoffs, especially their star backcourt. Fans have been left wondering if they’re made for this due to their recent inconsistent play in playoffs. They have another chance to prove the skeptics wrong. A bad performance in this series, however, could mean changes for the team.
*Featured photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports*