There will be big international interest in the NBA playoffs

Ibaka filled the gaping need for an elite power forward.

Kyle Lowry: Lowry was playing like the best point guard in the Eastern Conference before his injury kept him out for more than a month after the All-Star Break. That said, it's an interesting approach that could help the Raptors quickly close out the Bucks in this series.

A video game simulation of the National Basketball Association playoffs has the Toronto Raptors exiting once again in six games at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Last year's trip to the East final sent expectations skyrocketing in Toronto, but it's important to remember the Raptors had to battle through two gruelling seven-game series in order to get there.

The postseason began the same way for the Raps the past three years.

Tipoff for Game 1 is set for 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. If he keeps that up, he gives the Raptors a decided advantage inside. We will learn a lot about how the series will go in Game 1.

"That's one guy I don't worry about", Casey said.

- The biggest trades between the Bucks and Raptors were T.J. Ford for Charlie Villanueva, and Carlos Delfino for Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems (Johnson had never actually played for the Bucks). The chemistry he has developed alongside Giannis and a rejuvenated Greg Monroe has been extremely beneficial in helping lift the Bucks to the position they are in today. There were times against IN and Miami IN which the Raptors looked about to succumb meekly, and times at which they ran their opponents off the floor. Now that he is back in the fold, Toronto can shut down any team outside of Golden State.

He particularly respects 22-year-old Antetokounmpo. Lowry looked just fine in his return to action, averaging about 19 minutes per half in his 3.5 games. With his output already somewhat middling in that action (he ranked in just the 54th percentile per Synergy), Giannis and the Bucks could find pick-and-rolls involving him as the ballhandler rather fruitless. "I felt like I had the rhythm, the ball just wasn't going in the rim ..." He can make opponents pay for double-teams, too. "I'm not going to get blindsided by seeing Milwaukee".

"He doesn't mind scoring 10 or 12 points and winning the game". "It's nothing serious, I don't think".

"They play hard, they will play up and down, they know what they want to do and they stick with their game plan", Lowry said of Milwaukee. Round 2 could feature a Raptors-Cavaliers showdown.

While Giannis is Milwaukee's MVP, he seems to be a clear front-runner for this year's Most Improved Player award, which went to Portland's C.J. McCollum last season. Everybody is out, Leafs are in, Toronto sports is on a high and I think it's a big, big time for all of us.

Khris Middleton will be crucial here, as his ability to not only make DeRozan work on the defensive end, but also score, could limit the Compton native's effectiveness.

Without question he will get plenty of attention from the Raptors, but he won't be their only focus. The first dragon to slay is that 0-8 opening-game curse.

Milwaukee will be without No. 2 scorer Jabari Parker, who hasn't played since mid-February after undergoing surgery for a torn ACL in his left knee.