The Toronto Raptors opened their First Round Series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Saturday evening. Off the opening tip, you could tell the Raptors were fired up. Unfortunately for Toronto, the energy did not last. After finishing a lacklustre First Quarter down 30-22, the Raptors would try to turn things around in the Second. DeMar DeRozan could be seen heading to the locker room at the end of the quarter. After changing his shoes, Toronto’s All-Star was looking to turn things around.
Toronto began the Second Quarter firing on a cylinders early. As Kyle Lowry struggled shooting the ball and, found himself in foul trouble, Cory Joseph would enter the game. Toronto’s secondary point guard played well, creating looks for other and himself. Raptors big men Jonas Valanciunas and, Serge Ibaka both found success in the Toronto’s screen reliant offence. DeMar DeRozan also had a big Second Quarter getting to the basket with ease and, made shooting free-throws(13-14 in the game) look even easier. Patrick Patterson also got into the action finding Jonas Valanciunas off a sweet cut and then, hit a three pointer, bringing the crowd and, Toronto’s offence to life.
At the end of the First Half, the Toronto Raptors found themselves up 51-46. Toronto improved their overall field-goal percentage from 45% to 50% and, increased their free throw percentage from 25% to 72%. Not every member of the Raptors found success in the high energy Second Quarter. Kyle Lowry went into halftime shooting just 1-4 and, three fouls. The Milwaukee Bucks played strong on the glass and, got a lot of second chance baskets
Things were starting to look promising for the Toronto Raptors. DeMar DeRozan was playing like a man on a mission, Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas were succeeding in a strong pick-and-roll offence and, PJ Tucker as well as, DeMarre Carroll were not only both playing strong defence but, were also getting good scoring looks. Toronto however, struggled tremendously in the second half.
In the Third Quarter, it seemed as though there was a literal lid on the basket. The Raptors could not get anything to fall. Midway through the third, Toronto had scored just 6 points, all on free throws. Bucks Rookie Point Guard, Malcom Brogdon, looked like a cool, calm and, collected veteran, facilitating and, creating opportunities for the Bucks. Toronto also settled for a lot of bad three-point looks, forcing things just a bit from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, things did not appear much better, with defensive rotations not coming fast enough. At the end of the Third, Toronto found themselves down by just five however, the teams overall shooting percentage dropped to just 40% and, 3-18 in the quarter.
Giannis Antetokounmpo(game high 28 points) proved to be a matchup nightmare for Toronto. There were times however, when PJ Tucker and DeMarre Carroll were able to stop the “Greek Freak” but, most of the time, he was hot and, full of confidence. Greg Monroe who, made his Playoff debut, seemed unstoppable on the glass. Monroe finished the game with 14 points and, 15 boards. For Toronto in the Fourth Quarter, it became apparent that the game was getting out of reach. The team as a whole, continue to struggle. Toronto tried to find offensive consistency but, try as they might, DeMar DeRozan who finished with a team high 27 points and, Serge Ibaka, team high 14 rebounds just could not get the Raptors back in it. Milwaukee played strong defence and were able to capitalize off Toronto’s miscues, scoring 19 points off the Raptors 11 turnovers. The Toronto Raptors would finish and lose the game by a final score of 97-83.
For Toronto, their loss marks the fifth consecutive year the team has started Round One down 0-1. Saturday’s loss as disappointing as it may be, is not the end of the world. The Raptors are very familiar with in being in this position and, you can count on them bouncing back in a big way. One thing to be slightly concerned about, was, Game One’s lack of scoring depth. Only two Raptors scored in double-digits compared to the six Milwaukee Bucks who scored in double-digits.
The Toronto Raptors will look to avenge Saturday evenings loss on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM EST.