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Raptors vs. Bucks 2017: Schedule, scores, news, and predictions for NBA playoffs

Toronto closed out Milwaukee in 6

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors caught their stride at the end of the season and landed the East’s third seed behind Cleveland and Boston. That doesn’t make their first-round matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks any easier, as a stacked Raptors starting five will attempt to deal with one of the most unique, talented players the league has ever seen.

It’s Giannis Antetokounmpo versus the world in the first round, as his Bucks look to pull off an upset against a Toronto team fueled by one of the league’s more menacing one-two punches in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

Toronto is more than just its guard play, though. The Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline, fortifying a lineup already possessing a hard-nosed front court of Jonas Valanciunas and DeMarre Carroll. They also added P.J. Tucker to provide wing support off the bench.

Toronto is built to challenge LeBron James and the Cavaliers, who they’ll meet in the second round should they advance past Milwaukee.

How are the Bucks supposed to compete with that?

It’ll be a challenge. Milwaukee welcomed Khris Middleton back from a torn hamstring in March, but it lost Jabari Parker to a second torn ACL. Malcolm Brogdon could win Rookie of the Year, and Michael Beasley was surging until a hyperextended knee sidelined him for a few weeks.

The Bucks are no pushover of a team, but neither are the Raptors. Toronto’s beaten Milwaukee three times to one this season, and the Bucks were set back when they lost Parker midseason. That’s why as good as Milwaukee is as a team, it comes down to one player, and one player only.

It’s Giannis Antetokounmpo versus the world.

Key Matchup: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. DeMarre Carroll/P.J. Tucker

The Raptors signed Carroll in 2015 for one reason: to have a real chance at defending LeBron James. He may have a tougher challenge in trying to stop Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak has had a season the league has never seen before, becoming the first player in NBA history to rank in the top 20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocked shots. He’s a 7’0 LeBron James, before the muscle, and he’s only getting better.

That gives Carroll a warm-up before getting to The King in the second round. If he can shut down Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee will reduce to ash. P.J. Tucker is another physical defender who’ll give the Bucks’ All-Star similar issues defensively.

But the Raptors haven’t had an answer for him this season. In four games against Toronto, Antetokounmpo is averaging 24.8 points on 59 percent shooting, along with just under eight rebounds and eight assists per game. He’ll need to do more, however, if he wants those numbers to translate over to the win column.

Series Schedule

Game 1: Bucks 97, Raptors 83 (recap)

Game 2: Raptors 106, Bucks 100 (recap)

Game 3: Bucks 104, Raptors 77 (recap)

Game 4: Raptors 87, Bucks 76 (recap)

Game 5: Raptors 118, Bucks 93 (recap)

Game 6: Raptors 92, Bucks 89 (recap)

*if necessary


SB Nation’s Bucks vs. Raptors Predictions

Paul Flannery Raptors 7 Serge Ibaka
Mike Prada Raptors 6 DeMar DeRozan
Tom Ziller Raptors 4 DeMar DeRozan
Whitney Medworth Raptors 6 DeMar DeRozan
Kristian Winfield Raptors 7 Kyle Lowry
Tim Cato Raptors 5 Kyle Lowry
Zito Madu Raptors 7 DeMar DeRozan
Raptors HQ Raptors 6 Kyle Lowry
Brew Hoop Raptors 5 Kyle Lowry