We can finally exhale.
With a 110-100 loss to the Raptors tonight, the Bucks locked down the worst record in the league, and thus will have the highest odds at landing the number one pick and no worse than the fourth pick in this June's draft. Though this wasn't the intention at the beginning of the year, we've made it to this position. You may pop that champagne you have been saving in your refrigerator.
Coming into tonight with a two-game cushion on Philly with only two games remaining, Milwaukee had to win out to not be the sole proprietor of the bottom slot in the the league standings. The Raptors, in their own battle to lock down the third seed in the East, had no plans to allow the Bucks a chance out of the basement, coming out early with way more energy than Milwaukee. Playing with said purpose, Greivis Vasquez (25 points, 7 assists, 8-12 shooting) led a furious offensive attack that was fueled by some strong marksmanship from behind the arc (14-32, 10-18 in the first half). Once the Bucks finally caught on to the whole ''hey, those guys out here...we should probably guard them" strategy, either Vasquez or Kyle Lowry (24 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists) would quickly sneak past the closeout and dump it off to one of the bigs for an easy basket.
Speaking of those bigs, Jonas Valanciunas and Tyler Hansbrough combined for 24 rebounds en route to a 46-32 rebounding advantage for Toronto, 15 of which came on the offensive glass. With the risk of me throwing my computer out the window at the sight of my acknowledgement of Hansbrough, I will quickly move on to the next section of this recap. Hopefully you can understand.
Ramon Sessions (21 points, 5 assists) and Brandon Knight (18 points, 4 assits) were again near the top of the leading scorer list, but Jeff Adrien made a surprise near the top, collecting 19 points and 9 rebounds while being my personal hero for getting physical with Psycho T (okay, now I'm done, probably). Though the Bucks picked things up collectively as an offense as the game went on, the defense remained wildly suspect and kept Milwaukee from putting a decent scare in Toronto. Story of the season.
- It's over
- It's finally over
- We can smile again
- Yay us!
- It was almost silly how wide open the three-point attempts were in the first half. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise on a 66 (and counting?) loss team, but the effort to get out to shooters once the defense collapsed was just plain poop. Are you familiar with that quarter-jog you are sometimes forced into when you reach a crosswalk and you see that the sign has just turned to the orange hand, but you are impatient and decide to scoot across anyways? That was the pace with which defenders were getting out to shooters tonight.
- Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo played tonight at or near their respective expectations at this point in the long season. I'm not trying to knock either of them for not doing more than they did, but I'm more just looking forward to seeing if they can turn their contributions into a reasonable impact on the games next year.
- John Henson had 12 points and 7 rebounds, and I'm not sure I noticed any of it. Kidding aside, Milwaukee generally struggles with the versatility Toronto's bigs. While nobody really lit them up this time around, they were the ones keeping possessions alive in an effort to make this game a quick and painless death, not like that Game of Thrones episode, right?
- I don't watch Game of Thrones, actually. I just wanted to try and sound cool. I'm pretty sure I'm right, though.
- It's been made pretty clear by now, but the Bucks finished has assured them no worse than the fourth pick in this draft. After all this (accidental) pain and suffering and anxiety caused by a worthy opponent over in Philly, it feels pretty darn good to come away with something nice, right?
- We are only four quarters away from being able to put this trainwreck behind us. 48 more basketball minutes. 120-ish real clock minutes. The end is so close. We're gonna make it.