In the second half of last season, the Milwaukee Bucks made a living off tearing up young and disorganized defenses. Early in Monday's preseason game against the Toronto Raptors, I'd seen enough quick buckets and transition offense to suggest that trend would continue.
Turns out it takes more than 24 minutes or so of relatively easy scoring to defeat even a fellow also-ran of the Eastern Conference.
The Bucks battled for three quarters and held a lead entering the fourth, but Toronto's outside shooting caught fire near the end and sent Milwaukee to its 4th preseason defeat in a row. It was Toronto's 4th-straight win this preseason.
- The Bucks looked good out of the the gates, particularly the passing of Brandon Jennings, who played as pure a point guard quarter as one could hope in the first 12 minutes. He racked up a handful of cheap assists off basic catch-and-shoot deliveries, but also showed some nice interior passing set up by his own drives. Jennings finished with 10 assists, but his shot never found the mark, as he finished with just 6 points on 15 shots.
- Could there be a more prototypical Monta Ellis game? At one point in the third quarter he looked like he couldn't miss, and he alternated drives to the basket with swished fadeaways. Combined with 5 assists and 3 rebounds (plus no turnovers), Ellis seemed primed to carry Milwaukee to victory. But when his jumper abandoned him, he didn't notice, and the latter portion of the game featured way too many off-the-dribble-pull-ups from 20 feet. Ellis consistently shows the ability to blow by anybody defending him yet insists on jacking up contested jumpers. At this rate, we're all going to have a lot less hair on our heads by December.
- Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Dunleavy had quietly excellent scoring nights, combining for 40 points on 15-25 shooting. And that's despite Ilyasova's 0-4 line from behind the arc.
- Despite Dunleavy's efficiency, the second-unit offense was a mess against Toronto. Beno Udrih had six assists but couldn't hit anything himself (1-7 FG) as the Bucks' bench sans Dunelavy combined to make only one more shot than Brandon Jennings.
- Tobias Harris also had a rough go on offense, shooting 1-7 and committing 4 TOs. He played only 15 minutes, giving way to Dunleavy for most of the night. That's a nice option for Skiles to have, and his flexibility at the position will be even greater when Luc Mbah a Moute comes back. Luc is more of a matchup play, but Dunleavy is exactly the type of low-mistake player a coach can count on to provide some steadying minutes when another guy struggles.
- The Bucks only blocked four shots, and their interior defense was exceedingly sloppy. All three of the starting frontcourt players finished with 5 fouls, just over half of Milwaukee's 29 total PFs. That sent the Raptors to the line 35 times, where they scored 25 points. The Bucks shot 93% from the line, but only attempted 16 FTs.