After an outstanding Game Two in Toronto, the Raptors were back in action Thursday night in Milwaukee. From the moment the game began, it became apparent extremely fast that whatever game 2 momentum they garnered was gone, and the series could be in jeopardy. To be fair, after Game Two, nobody could have predicted just how quickly things went down-hill for the Toronto Raptors. What exactly went wrong? Well, for starters, they finished with 12 points in quarter 1. Did anything go right?
Trouble on the glass
The Toronto Raptors have extremely capable and, talented big men. Jonas Valanciunas came off a 10 rebound performance in game two as well as, a 16 rebound performance from Serge Ibaka. PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson also chipped in on the boards. In Game Three, the Raptors were drastically out rebounded. At the end of the first-half, Toronto was being out rebounded 13 to 23. At the end of the game, Toronto actually turned the tide, finishing 40-36. The point is that the Toronto Raptors simply cannot win games when they are getting beat on the glass. Toronto needs their rebounders to step up, big time. This team was built to be a defensive juggernaut and equally strong rebounds. Now, what was supposed to be the Raptors strength, is slowly becoming their downfall. Although their rebounding and, defence improved somewhat in the second half it may however, have been to late.
Where are the All-Stars?
This is not the first time this issue has been brought up. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry both had tremendous regular seasons however, are very streaky in the Playoffs. To be fair, Lowry did miss Four weeks down the stretch with injury and, DeRozan is only human. Playing in Toronto is hard, if you’re not succeeding you are going to hear about it, especially when it matters most. In Game Three, DeMar Derozan did not make a single field goal for the first time ever in the Playoffs. DeRozan scored just 8 points. Kyle Lowry on the other hand was also not that much better. Lowry shot 4-10 scoring a mere 13 points. Lowry and DeRozan were a combined -26. After their heroics in Game Two, nobody could see this coming. Kyle Lowry are not the only ones who need to score more which, brings us to our next point.
Reserves need to step up
The Toronto Raptors reserves were heavily out scored by the Milwaukee Bucks reserves in Game Three. At the end of the first-half, Toronto only had 10 points from it’s reserves compared to Milwaukee’s 25 points from their reserves. Game Three ended with Toronto’s reserves being outscored 42-31 Part of the Bucks surging bench was a hot crowd inspiring their play as well as, Toronto’s inefficiency to get anything going. Delon Wright however, was very impressive. Wright scored 12 points, grabbed four rebound and, dished out one of Toronto’s 6 assists in the game. PJ Tucker did not enter the game in the second-half and, Patrick Patterson finished with only 3 points in 22 minutes. Come Saturday, the Raptors will need all hands on deck. Do not be surprised if PJ Tucker gets the starting nod over DeMarre Caroll. Lastly, could Norman Powell please get some minutes?
Many times in this series the Toronto Raptors have been forced to play outside their comfort zone. Much like in Game One, Toronto appeared to be extremely disoriented both offensively and defensively. Shots were forced and, rotations were sloppy. There have not been as many air-balled shots as there were Thursday night. Milwaukee’s defensive length has become a problem for the Raptors, as of late. This is not a problem they cannot fix. The Toronto Raptors have very strong defenders on their roster. It would be very nice to see Toronto force Milwaukee out of it’s game-plan, for a change. Getting off to a great start is the biggest key to turning this ship around. Playing from behind will not, cut it anymore especially, trying to come back from 20 and 30 point deficits.
On to the next one
What separates the best players from the good ones is their ability to flush out the bad games and move on. You can count on the Toronto Raptors being hellbent on winning Game Four. With their backs seemingly against the wall, you just know the Raptors will take the fight back to the young and, confident Bucks. If one thing in this series is certain, the Milwaukee Bucks should not be taken lightly. This team is finally getting in the groove many have been waiting for. Raptors on TSN Commentator Sam Mitchell said it best: “If you come back and win Saturday afternoon, no one is even going to remember what the final score was in this game.” The Toronto Raptors will look to avenge a 104-77 loss, Saturday at 3:00 PM EST. Do not give up hope yet.