The Milwaukee Bucks still haven't figured out how to keep opponents off the three point line or the offensive boards. Related: they still haven't figured out how to win a game either.
The Toronto Raptors (3-0) stayed perfect on Sunday night thanks to another hot shooting night at the Air Canada Centre, connecting on 11/25 from deep and grabbing 18 offensive boards to fuel a 104-87 win over the still-winless Bucks (0-3). Jonas Valanciunas scored 19 points to lead six Raptors in double-digits, as Toronto took control of the game in the second quarter and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way out. After the Bucks closed to within 83-77 early in the fourth, Terrence Ross responded with three triples and a layup to spark a 14-0 run to put the game away.
In the silver linings column, Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again by far the Bucks' best player, shaking off a 1/4 start to score 20 points (8/12 fg, 1/1 three, 3/3 ft) with nine boards, two assists, a block and no turnovers. He single-handedly kept the Bucks in it during the third quarter, scoring 11 points in the period to keep the Bucks within 81-71 going into the fourth. Other than a corner three midway through the third, Giannis got to the hoop at will for most of the night, and even his few misses were mostly of the "shoulda made them" variety. The most frustrating part? The fact that Giannis was on the bench watching while the Bucks let the game slip away in the fourth.
Greg Monroe was the only other obvious bright spot with 14 points (5/7 fg, 4/4 ft), six boards, five assists and two blocks, though he had just two shots after halftime. Michael Carter-Williams added 12 points (3/10 fg, 2/5 threes, 4/4 ft), seven assists and five rebounds, though he once again had turnover problems (4) and was predictably outplayed by Kyle Lowry (15 points on 10 shots, seven assists, four steals, two turnovers). Weirdly, MCW splashed a pair of early threes, only to follow with a couple of airballs and wide right thumper. Unfortunately Greivis Vasquez wasn't any better, missing all four of his three point attempts and turning it over three times against his old club. Layups from both drew the Bucks to within six early in the fourth, but that was as close as they were able to come.
- No one wanted an 0-3 start, but the fact that it's come with Giannis putting up all-star caliber numbers (23.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 71.8% true shooting) puts a very different spin on things. The small picture results are disappointing; the big picture ceiling just got a bit higher.
- I'm not sure what can be said about the defense at this point, though the good news is that their struggles to date have come with John Henson having played almost no minutes so far this season. Even if you don't think Henson is all he's cracked up to be on that end, he's certainly better than Miles Plumlee and Johnny O'Bryant.
- MCW's performances have been uneven to say the least, but Vasquez's play isn't exactly putting a ton of pressure on him either.
- Speaking of the Bucks' point guards, Kidd has been fairly blunt in his preference for not playing them together -- the theory (which I agree with) being that they each need the ball to be at their best. But they did get some run together tonight, including early in the fourth quarter when they alternated driving layups to trim a 10-point deficit to just six. That was likely a relief for Jason Kidd, who was trying to steal Giannis some rest after he played the entire third. Unfortunately it proved fleeting -- Toronto ripped off its game-clinching run immediately thereafter and before Giannis ever saw the court again.
- The Bucks will look to stop the bleeding tomorrow night in Brooklyn against the Nets, followed by a return home vs. the Sixers on Wednesday and the Knicks and Nets again thereafter. In other words, they have a chance to turn things around quickly if they can pull themselves together defensively.