3 keys as Milwaukee Bucks look to bounce back against Toronto Raptors

Dec 2, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Wesley Matthews. Toronto Raptors: Pascal Siakam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 10: (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Following arguably their worst loss of the season, the Milwaukee Bucks will wrap up their three-game homestand tonight against the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks will need a bounce-back effort after a rough shooting night caused them to lose to one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Luckily, the Bucks are still the defending champs and surely won’t take a loss like that lightly, even if it is in the regular season and likely won’t have a shooting night that bad again. In addition to that, the Raptors are playing the second night of a back-to-back where they had to travel from Toronto to Milwaukee, so they will be a bit tired as well.

However, the Raptors are getting healthy and looking stronger while the Bucks are losing bodies in their rotation once again. As we saw against the Pistons, you can’t take any team lightly in the NBA and especially not a very competitive Raptors team that has a win against them already.

How will Wesley Matthews fair in his (likely) return to the starting lineup for the Milwaukee Bucks?

Just as the Milwaukee Bucks were looking whole and finding a rhythm with all their rotation players fully set, they have now lost five players to health and safety protocols, with the most recent two being Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton.

That’s in addition to Brook Lopez and Donte DiVincenzo being out with their injuries, so the Bucks are once again thin in their rotation.

In a perfect world, if Allen were to be in health and safety protocols, the Bucks would have slid Connaughton in, or, depending on his initial recovery, DiVincenzo could have stepped back into the starting job. Alas, they are both out and now the Bucks are going to be searching under their couch cushions for minutes at shooting guard.

Instead, the likeliest scenario will be that Wesley Matthews will step in and join the starting lineup as he did in 2019-20. He has experience playing alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, so he knows how to play off of them and found early chemistry defensively with Jrue Holiday.

Matthews has been playing around 18 minutes per game since returning from health and safety protocols, with the high end being nearly 22 minutes against the Orlando Magic. He’ll have to surpass that number tonight if he starts as the only options at the two behind him are Rodney Hood and George Hill. This also will be huge in regards to if the Bucks will be guaranteeing his contract (although that seems like a formality at this point).

I also would have liked to see them experiment with Hill in the starting five as he and Holiday have one of the highest net ratings among all two-man combos in the NBA, but against the Raptors, in particular, they’ll need Matthews’ size.