The Milwaukee Bucks open the Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors tonight at Fiserv Forum. It’s their first game since knocking out Boston in the conference semifinals last Wednesday.
The Bucks are hoping to be sharper for game one of this series, than they were in game one of the series with Boston. The Celtics cleaned up in the series opener 120-90 and accounted for the Bucks only playoff loss. The Bucks are 8-1 in this postseason.
The Bucks will be well rested and healthy heading into the series. That includes guard Malcolm Brogdon, who returned to the Bucks lineup during the Boston series, scoring 10 points in 17 minutes in the Bucks game 5 win.
But coach Mike Budenholzer plans to stick with Nikola Mirotic in the starting lineup in game one tonight and he’ll bring Brogdon off the bench.
Defensively, the Bucks will have their hands full with Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. During the playoffs, Leonard has averaged 31.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.3 steals a game in the playoffs. His post season success includes a buzzer-beating game winner in Game 7 on Sunday against Philadelphia.
Khris Middleton will draw the defensive assignment on Leonard. The Bucks know they won’t be able to totally stop Leonard, but they’re hoping to make things tough on him.
The Bucks will need to prevent Leonard from living at the free throw line in the series. He’s knocking down 84.8% of his free throw attempts on the season.