The Toronto Raptors simply never had it tonight, dropping the first game of their 5 game home stand against the Milwaukee Bucks 82-75. The Raptors, coming off the heels off of a stretch of four games in five nights including two straight overtime victories on the weekend, never seemed to have any real energy.
The lone bright spot in the game came from Jonas Valanciunas who was able to put up 12 points and 10 rebounds as the team seemed to muster up some kind of life heading into the half. It would seem however that sometime at the half the team received a phoney telegram from the league indicating that from that point on, shots from the paint were banned from the game of basketball. The guards completely ignored Valanciunas, instead electing to chuck themselves into oblivion.
The game seem to turn in the Raptors favour as the team held the Bucks to 1-15 from the field, tying the game. However, the putrid shot selection and turnovers would prove to be the team’s demise.
While the excuse was made throughout the game that the Raptors were playing fatigued after their recent condensed schedule, but that simply was no excuse. The Milwaukee Bucks were missing three of their most consistent offensive threats in Brandon Knight, Ersan Ilyasova and the ejected O.J Mayo. The team, simply put, didn’t bring it. In losing this game, the Raptors squandered a golden opportunity to pad their record before they hit the meat grinder of a schedule that the post All Star break is going to bring. With that let’s go to the Cage’s Key to the game.
The grade F- doesn’t even exist, but the Raptor’s offence was so terrible we decided to invent it. The team shot an almost inconceivable 31% from the floor. The team also shot 25% from beyond the arc, yet felt the need to continue to launch, launch, and launch again. This mentality was what got them into the hole into the 3rd quarter that ultimately they could not dig themselves out of. Normally, when the team gets stuck in an offensive lull, it’s All Star Kyle Lowry who is able to put the team on his back. Tonight however, Lowry turned in one of his worst performances as a Raptors going 1-7 for only 2 points.
The Raptors overall were decent defensively on this night, however against a team missing almost it’s entire offence and led at the point by Philadelphia 76ers cast-off Jordan Gutierrez, that’s likely not saying much. The reason the grade is not lower is for their fourth quarter stand that allowed the team a shot to actually win the game.
Valanciunas was killing it on the boards, finishing with 13 for the game, adding to the Raptors’ total of 46. Valanciunas spent the last quarter and a half of the game on the bench along with the rest of the under performing starters, so in the long run, it really didn’t matter.
Game Ball: Kris Middleton
Middleton was the absolute lifeblood behind the Bucks’ win tonight. The 39th pick in the 2012 draft proved his worth, pouring in 25 points behind 10-17 shooting.