Two Thoughts: Rest and Secrets
The Toronto Raptors will play the second half of a back-to-back tonight when they take on the Eastern Conference's top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
With both teams having already clinched the top two spots in the conference, this game is essentially meaningless for both teams and the teams will likely treat it as such.
Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo is out after having oral surgery to fix a toothache, according to the team. The Raptors will be without Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka and potentially Kyle Lowry, who is a game-time decision.
Considering there is essentially nothing to play for, don't be surprised if a few of the Raptors starters don't play or are on significant minutes restrictions.
This game is the second part of a back-to-back and injuries are far more common when players are tired, according to a 2018 study in the Journal of Athletic Training.
"Simply not playing in back-to-back games can reduce the probability of an injury by almost 16% for the average player," wrote Dr. Melanie Lewis. "Whereas the topic of player rest is becoming increasingly controversial for basketball fans and the media, the data support its utility in preventing injuries."
Considering Lowry and Pascal Siakam both played over 35 minutes against Memphis, it's unlikely either plays too many minutes against the Bucks.
Considering the Raptors and Bucks are the top two seeds in the conference, there's a very real possibility that the two teams meet in the Eastern Conference finals again this season. Therefore, there is no reason for the Raptors to show their hand against the Bucks, and frankly, with Antetokounmpo out, it would be hard to show any strategy anyways.