Sometimes the best analysis is the simplest, and tonight Toronto just made an avalanche of three-pointers to sink Milwaukee, 122-100. A demoralizing first half gave way to an encouraging third quarter for the Bucks, as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker helped pulled them to within ten at the start of the fourth. But Toronto shut that down real quick, as Terrence Ross did his best Human Torch impression by nailing every shot in sight to send the Bucks down with a whimper.
Giannis led the Bucks with a 30-point, eight rebound, five assist, three steal and zero turnover night on 13-23 shooting, with 24 of those points coming in the second half. Jabari Parker added his own 27 points on a hyper-efficient 11-17 night including two smooth-as-jazz threes. No one else was really a factor for the Bucks, although Thon Maker did get a chance to entertain (or at least run around frantically) in front of his pseudo-home crowd with a surprise entrance early in the second quarter.
Toronto’s usual suspects balled out, with Demar DeRozan getting his 30 on only 11 shots by going 15-15 from the line. Kyle Lowry added 18 points, seven assists and finished plus-29 on the night, but Ross was the shooter extraordinaire with 25 points on 10-17 shooting including 4-6 from three.
Milwaukee shot a season worst 4-24 (16.7%) on threes compared to Toronto’s blistering 14-25 (56%) on the night. The “opponent 3-point regression to the mean god“ is grinning gleefully at the Bucks tonight. Although the Bucks actually won the turnover battle 11-14 after their putrid performance against the Wizards, Toronto nabbed 11 more rebounds than the Bucks — 16 offensive compared to just 25 defensive for Milwaukee. Ultimately though, this just came down to where the teams made shots. Both teams had 42 baskets, Toronto just happened to hit 10 more threes and 12 more free throws than Milwaukee.
Jabari jiggled off his sluggish last few games early, with a jumper and quick cut towards the basket to stake the Bucks to an 8-7 lead. Toronto answered with their own run, as a DeMarre Carroll finish capped a 14-2 run to give the Raptors the lead 16-8. Jabari Parker continued his hot start by screaming to the hoop for an and-one, winding up with nine for the quarter before leaving for Mirza Teletovic. Giannis scored his first basket of the game with :22 left in the first, but Patrick Patterson answered with a three to make it 33-23 Toronto after one as the Raptors went 5-8 from three.
Toronto continued their three-point barrage with three deep shots from Lowry and Ross to extend their lead to 44-28. Searching for an answer — or perhaps a white flag — Jason Kidd went to the obvious candidate, Thon Maker! His surprising insertion at the 9:22 mark of the second quarter predictably and sadly didn’t spell a turnaround for Milwaukee, as he fumbled several balls down low. The Raptors rudely ignored Thon’s homecoming, and instead kept laying it on thick before Thon exited gracefully with the Bucks trailing 53-34. The Bucks misfortune continued the rest of the half, and they went into halftime trailing 69-49. Toronto went 8-14 from three, with Tony Snell hitting the Bucks’ only three late in the second quarter to finish 1-13 on the half. DeRozan scored 16 on only three(!) field goal attempts, with Terrence Ross adding 12. Giannis mustered only six points, but Greg Monroe had a tidy 5-5 shooting half with 11 points and Jabari posted 17.
Giannis came out determined in the third, scoring five of the Bucks’ first eight points in the third before a Jabari three-point jumper cut the lead to 77-60. Toronto answered with a quick 5-0 spurt, but Giannis and Jabari combined to go on a 12-2 run with a series of transition finishes and roll-ins near the rim to make it 84-72. As he did all night, Terrence Ross nailed a three-pointer in the Bucks face, but after another Jabari Parker three, the Bucks trailed only 90-80. The quarter ended with Milwaukee down only 92-82 as Giannis and Jabari combined for 23 of the Bucks’ 34 points in the quarter.
The optimism of the third dissipated quickly, shattered by the Raptors blitzkrieg bombing attack from downtown. Terrence Ross and Kyle Lowry each hit two threes in the first half of the third quarter as the Raptors lead inflated back to 109-86. Jabari and Giannis hit a few baskets to close it out, including a rim-shattering Parker slam, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Thon got some garbage time minutes and hit a baseline jumper, but Toronto won out as Norman Powell hit one last three-pointer for good measure to sink the Bucks 122-100.
- Giannis had his shot blocked by Pascal Siakim as he tried to euro-step by him early in the first. I can’t recall that happening lately, let alone by a rookie.
- Coach Kidd went with a few peculiar substitution patterns in the first quarter. Initially, he subbed out only John Henson for Greg Monroe. Then, two minutes later he sent in Beasley, Brogdon and Teletovic, leaving Giannis out there as the only starter for the final 3:51 of the first quarter. This was the first run that lineup has gotten run all year, and they were outscored 7-6 during that time.
- Thon Maker surprisingly came into the game with 9:22 in the second quarter. He looked pretty lost out there, and fumbled the ball down low a few times. His small hands are a common knock against him, but he had a nice tap-out to the perimeter on an offensive rebound. Eventually he re-entered in garbage time and nailed a baseline jumper.
- Giannis had a brutal back down of Patrick Patterson late in the second quarter. He treated him like a sack of flour and Patterson looked hopeless against Giannis as he dunked it home. Patterson is a butch dude, so it continues to amaze me how strong Giannis is now. Here it is:
- Giannis played center for the final 5:43 of the first half, a smallball look that the Bucks haven’t shown in their past few games and a topic discussed on today’s Locked on Bucks with Frank and Eric. It didn’t quite have the same fortuitous effect it’s had in other scenarios, but the Bucks were only outscored by one, 16-15.
- Milwaukee’s third quarter run was spurred largely by an invigorated effort by Giannis and Jabari. Even on a night where Toronto tossed Milwaukee’s faint hopes into an incinerator time and again, seeing the team spur their way back on the strength of their two stars is an encouraging sign.
- Giannis had a three-quarters court heave and a half-court heave at the end of quarters tonight. If there would’ve been enough time at the end of the second, he looked ready to hurl another one. His utter disregard for his shooting percentage is beautiful.