Sitting as the first and second seeds in the East, the Raptors and Bucks are the two runaway favorites to represent their conference come June. This balanced, calculated and talented Raptors squad has flourished under a new head coach and offensive superstar. The Bucks have rallied behind their MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, and with new head coach Mike Budenholzer, have allowed him to dominate on another level. Coming off a tough loss to the defending champs in GS, the Bucks will be looking for revenge, and will have their hands full vs. this potent Raptors squad.
This is what happened.
- The question as always vs. the Bucks is who guards Giannis. Pascal will likely take the primary duty of checking him, but OG, Kawhi, and probably Serge will take turns trying to corral him. His size and speed are just absurd, and regardless of who is guarding him, he has the athletic advantage.
- The Raps offensively will look to spread the ball, but this Bucks squad is very similar in the fact that they are extremely defensively versatile, besides their center Brook Lopez. Look for him to be put in a lot of the actions early and often.
- Giannis starts it off with a step back J, not a good sign if you’re a Raptors fan. Realistically the only way to guard GA is to sag off and let him shoot.
- Middleton on Kawhi is a match up you have to love, no way he can hang with him. Siakam back with a corner triple, both teams shooting the lights out to start. Lopez gets put in the action and gives up a lay-up to Kawhi. Has to be the weak link defensively in this stellar Bucks defense, isn’t athletic enough to be a solid rim protector. Raps are playing Giannis pretty good, swarming him on defense and not giving him space to attack.
- Lopez has been sneakily effective driving to the lane from the perimeter, it always looks like it won’t go in but he has a few baskets so far from these lumbering drives.
- Both of these squads are really similar. They don’t run too many set plays, they would rather just let their superstars isolate(KL, GA), or drive and kick to shooters as all the players in both teams starting lineups are competent from deep(Ibaka this year has been off though).Pat Connaton is in now for Giannis, and the Bucks offense looks pretty weak. Not a whole lot of talent to create a mismatch, especially against this superb Raptors defense.
- Raps go two small guards with Fred and Lowry. Interesting to note, the best lineups for the Raptors this season have had FVV in for Lowry with the starting five. Raps defense is really putting the clamps on the Bucks now. Toronto has a great chance to extend the lead with their second unit, as the Bucks bench is nowhere near as solid as the Raps.Bucks should feel lucky they are only down 4, as some timely shots by Lopez has kept them close. GA back in and they go right to him in the post. The Raps are looking to double him at every opportunity, and content to let the bucks shoot from deep. Toronto is doing a beautiful job flying around the court closing out to shooters, and the Bucks look hesitant to try to punish the help defense. If the Bucks can’t punish the help off Giannis, his offensive potential is drastically mitigated.
- Raptors have been content to switch whoever on GA, including FVV and Lowry repeatedly. The crazy part is neither of those guards have done a bad job on him. GA can obviously shoot over each of them but it makes sense to force jumpers as opposed to giving him layups or looks near the rim. You can only imagine what type of force GA would be with even half of a reliable jumper.
First Quarter – Bucks 25 – Raptors 30
- All things considered the Raps have done a great job on GA. He hasn’t really been able to punish the Raps switching smaller players on him because they are doubling and just daring the Bucks to shoot, which they haven’t done successfully off the help.
- The Bucks hit some timely threes and should be happy to be only down 5, as their offense looked very cluttered and poor for the majority of the quarter. If GA can’t produce look in trouble.
- Second units in now for both squads, JV gets attacked off the rip in a PnR, giving Maker two free throws. JV’s biggest problem defensively is he gets caught out of position, and subsequently fouls at an extremely high rate.
- Raps really working the FVV-JV PnR, but Jonas has been unable to finish some good looks to start. OG goes down after soaring for a rebound and looks to be hurt, really worrying sign after his health ailments to start the season. This raps unit looks kind of disorganized, and OG looks to be slightly limping. Surprisingly so far it has been the bucks second unit who has won the battle, as the game is tied 2 minutes into the second.
- Giannis with a disgusting eurostep dunk, reminding everyone in the league why you cannot let him get close to the rim. JV working on Thon Maker in the post, gotta like that match up as JV has easily 30 pounds on him. Bucks finally hit a three off the GA double, could be trouble for the Raps if this keeps up. Seems like there is no way you can single cover GA in the post, especially as he is getting the switches on smaller players. This must be so frustrating for GA, he knows no one on this Raptors team can realistically guard him but his supporting cast hasn’t been able to capitalize off the mismatches he creates.
- Delon missing a couple wide open threes, really tough to see as it limits his value so much. Starters back in now for the raps, really poor showing for the bench mob, as they gave up a 5 point lead and are down 1 now. Bledsoe comes back down with a AND-1 on Ibaka, and the Bucks are playing some solid ball. The Bucks have done a good job on Kawhi, not letting him get off in isolation, and no one on the Raps has really stepped up. Pascal has hit some nice runners but it’s not been the best showing.
- Meanwhile, the Bucks are raining threes down the Raps, and they are 4/4 this quarter from behind the three-point stripe. Lead has ballooned to 6. All the credit to the Bucks because the Raps are playing solid defense, Milwaukee is just hitting shots. Notably they have expanded this lead all with GA on the bench. FVV comes back in the game and hits a nice corner three getting the raps back to 1,
- Raps offense looks pretty static, just guys swinging the ball around trying to get a lane to attack. Bucks meanwhile are getting a bunch of help from these threes. Lopez comes back in and hits one right over the contest from Ibaka. These are well defended but the Bucks are knocking them down. Back to back for Lopez, except this time it was from about 30 feet. Lopez is causing all sorts of problems, posting up smaller players in the mid-range and knocking down shots over the smaller Ibaka. Also Lopez has an absolutely comical post-three pointer celebration, looks like he’s putting a pop tart in the toaster or something.
First Half – Bucks 51 – Raptors 49
- The Bucks really got bailed out by some insane shooting. Lopez kept them in it even though the offense was really stagnant by hitting some really tough shots. GA has yet to get it going but it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he starts wreaking havoc on the Raps.
- Toronto hasn’t really looked that convincing. Lowry and Kawhi have been quiet offensively, and some timely shots by FVV and Siakam have kept it close. I imagine both sides will play a lot better in the second half.
- Giannis starting off the third on the ball a lot, and has scored 6 straight. Raps are still doing a whole lot of standing around offensively, forcing up tough drives against a set defense. Kawhi has not had his best game so far, and has been unable to produce in isolation against this Bucks defense. Kawhi says STFU Darien with a beautiful and 1 fadeaway off a PnR with Ibaka. Both teams have looked to their stars early.
- Ibaka with two threes to start the half off. It will really give the other Raptors some space to operate if he can hit that shot consistently, as Lopez is clogging the paint right now giving Ibaka that shot really whenever he wants. Bucks turn it over leading to a Siakam slam, tie game
- Crazy stat, Bucks are scoring 14 more PPG with Bud as the head coach instead of J Kidd. The Lowry Ibaka PnR gets a wide open dunk for serge. Would be nice to see Lowry get a bit more involved offensively, as he has been pretty quiet so far. Raps are really steping up defensively now, getting into the Bucks players, and are looking to run on offense. Bledsoe with a great floater off the penetration.
- Lowry has gotten Serge the ball in some great positions this quarter, but his inability to finish the traffic against a taller and stronger Bucks front court has hurt the offense. Raps as a unit have shot pretty poorly from deep. Lowry and most notably Serge have been bricking it.
- Raps second unit in now. JV has had no success driving against this Bucks team, gotten probably three shots blocked at the rim. Brogdon has done some great work driving against these smaller Raptor guards, as once he gets his shoulder on Lowry or FVV he just finishes over the top. Gotta love his game, solid on both ends and only makes high IQ plays.
Third Quarter – Bucks 79 – Raptors 74
- Really low-scoring affair tonight, both teams have struggled offensively as the score would suggest. Lowry with zero points and Kawhi with only 11 is not what you want to see, hopefully they get it going in the fourth.
- Giannis sneakily has 15 and 16, but they have all been pretty ugly. Lopez has done work and its unclear if the Raps have an answer for him right now. Should be a good one down the stretch
- Bucks second unit comes out with some intensity, and opens up a 9 point lead. JV along with the Raps bench really haven’t brought it. FVV has hit some big shots but overall they have looked bad with the bench mob on the court. Lead is 11
- FVV with another corner J, and he has had a wonderful game.Fred gets a steal on one end, and JV forces a foul fighting on the offensive glass. KL with a nice steal leading to a foul in transition. Leonard looks slightly shaken up though not what you wanna see.
- This game has been pretty ugly to watch, not a lot of great shooting or offense production from either squad. Giannis has done work on the boards and Lopez has hit some shots, and the Raps have gotten small contributions from everyone. It has been a through slugfest. Starters back in minus Lowry now, and Lopez hits a step back three on Ibaka jesus christ this guy is killing us. Giannis comes back the next possession and draws another foul. Bucks are killing the Raps on the glass,getting triple possessions. Lowry comes back in now for Pascal, imagine Nurse would rather have the shooting although they have had problems rebounding the ball.
- Green hits a huge three off a Lowry drive and dish and the lead is at 6. Giannis has settled a few times for jumpers, to the Raptors delight, but you can’t but help but feel he has some trick up his sleeve as the game winds down. Ibaka hits a huge three on a PnP with Lowry, love to see it. If he can hit that shot it opens the whole game up. Raps down 3.
- Ibaka comes back again with a tip in on a Kawhi miss, but Brogdon bullies his way to trim on Lowry with a great drive. Lopez is consistently leaving Ibaka wide open to protect the paint, all he has to do is knock these threes down. Leonard hits a nice pull up on a PnR, and the Raps are getting some good looks now. Ibaka with a nice block leading to a FVV three in transition. Two MVP’s tn for the Raps right there.
- Bucks are sputtering right now on both ends, and the Raps have hit another gear. Giannis has been unable to produce in crunch time, and has not had a lot of time on the ball in these last 5 minutes. Middleton gets a really suspect call on a drive, and ties the game up at 94 with 2:20 left.
- Leonard hits a monster step back triple, and the Bucks come back to Middleton who turns it over from the absolute harassment by Kawhi. Kawhi is looking to take every shot down the stretch, but finds Lowry in the corner who misses an open triple. Middleton gets switched on Ibaka, and I don’t think Giannis has touched the ball in about 3 minutes. Brogdon hits a three, Leonard turns it over and we are tied with 40 seconds. Brogdon hits another three from the collapsed defense and Bucks are up 3 with 43 seconds to play.
- FVV with a gorgeous drive on GA. Raps force a nasty trap at halfcourt but the Bucks get a timeout called. I don’t know many MVP’s that don’t have the ball in their hands in moments like this, Giannis hasn’t been able to impose his will on the game down the stretch, and it all stems from his inability to shoot. Raps blow the out of timeout defense and let Giannis dunk the ball as Pascal can’t foul him. Bucks up three with 12 seconds to go.
- Bucks foul Lowry at the top of the key to kill some time. Raps put CJ in for FVV, and Leonard misses the 30 footer off the inbounds. Probably could have gotten a better shot in that situation. Bucks hit the FT’s and Raps dribble it out.
Final Score Raptors 99 – Bucks 104
- Tough loss for the Raps, they got a lot of momentum down the stretch but some big plays by Brogdon and some costly turnovers ended up biting them in the ass. FVV played incredible but you gotta get more out of Lowry- 0 points 3 assists is terrible for a player of his pedigree.
- The Bucks supporting cast showed up big time, with Brogdon and Lopez having solid games. Middleton provided creativity down the stretch in isolation, and the Bucks grinded out a tough win in a really ugly game. Giannis had some great moments but it is really unusual to see a player being vaunted as a MVP favorite not have the ball down the stretch. Really shows how his offensive game is quite one-dimensional and subsequently limited when crunch-time hits. He is obviously a superb talent but without a jump shot or very refined post-up game he will struggle to dominate against a organized defense.
Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts on the game down below.