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News » Bucks-Raptors Preview 2009-01-29


Bucks-Raptors Preview 2009-01-29


Bucks-Raptors Preview 2009-01-29
The Toronto Raptors may have one of the worst records in the Eastern Conference, but they're inching closer to the playoffs.

The Milwaukee Bucks, meanwhile, are desperately trying to hold onto their postseason spot.

The Raptors look to continue their playoff push as they try to win a fourth straight game for the first time in a year on Friday when they host the eighth-place Bucks, who are still seeking their first victory since Michael Redd's season-ending injury.

After back-to-back playoff appearances, Toronto (19-28) hampered its chances of returning this season when it dropped its seventh straight game last Wednesday.

The Raptors were 4 1/2 games out of contention last week, but have won three straight games since to pull within two games back of the Bucks (22-27).

Toronto, which is still in 13th place in the East, had another outstanding shooting performance in Wednesday's 107-106 win over New Jersey.

The Raptors shot 55.7 percent from the floor and made 11-of-22 3-pointers on Wednesday, and are averaging 111.3 points on 54.9 percent shooting in their last three games. They have not won four straight games since Dec. 9-14 of last season.

"We were looking for stretches of games like this during our stretch of losses," Toronto guard Joey Graham said. "We needed these games to get us back on track, to get us back in the playoff run."

Jose Calderon has been a big reason for the Raptors' latest turnaround.

Calderon, who had 17 points and 11 assists on Wednesday, has started the last three games after missing 10 of the previous 11 with a strained right hamstring.

"We've got to be more aggressive and try to make plays for one another," said Calderon, who is averaging 18.7 points on 68.8 percent shooting and 9.7 assists in his last three games.

Calderon had 25 points and nine assists in Toronto's 91-87 win over the Bucks on Nov. 11, but missed the second meeting, a 107-97 loss on Jan. 5, because of his hamstring.

It will likely be tough for Milwaukee to stay in the playoff picture after Redd, the team's leading scorer, sustained a season-ending knee injury Saturday.

The Bucks have lost both games they've played since Redd's injury, and are 5-11 without him on the season.

Richard Jefferson was expected to help carry the offense with Redd out, but he has totaled 29 points on 8-of-28 shooting in his last two games. Jefferson has also had no luck against Toronto this season, scoring 15 points on 4-of-20 shooting in the two games.

Charlie Villanueva led the Bucks with 28 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's 107-99 loss to Indiana. Milwaukee could not make up an early deficit, as it trailed 38-22 at the end of the first quarter.

"We need to be more aggressive in the beginning," Villanueva said. "We have to step up more. I have to take it upon my self to step up more."

Villanueva, who has scored 27 points or more in three of his last five games, had 25 points in the win over the Raptors - his former team - earlier this month.

The Bucks, who have been outscored by an average of 16.0 points during a four-game road losing streak, have dropped four of their last five games at the Air Canada Centre.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 29, 2009

 

 
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