Back to Milwaukee go the Bucks, trailing 3-2 now after Toronto finally played its first A-game of the series in a dominating 118-93 win. Toronto’s offensive ball movement finally made the Bucks’ defense pay, and Milwaukee’s improved offensive performance from game four couldn’t make up for their ghastly defensive performance.
Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly wasn’t the reason for Milwaukee’s loss, rebounding from game four to finish with 30 points, nine rebounds and three each of assists, steals and blocks. Malcolm Brogdon played an up and down game, but he at least delivered by making open threes to end at 19 points. Everyone else was sorta just there, and that’s all I really feel like typing about that.
Every one of Toronto’s starting lineup finished in double-digit scoring, with Norman Powell leading the gang at 23 points including 8-11 shooting. DeMar DeRozan had 18, and Kyle Lowry finished with 16 and 10 assists.
Toronto shot 57.4% from the field, including a respectable 42.3% from beyond the arc. Milwaukee shot 50.8% and 45.5% from deep, but they also went 14-25 from the free throw line, their second consecutive poor performance from the stripe. The Bucks got merely two offensive rebounds all game, leading to a staggering 94.6% defensive rebounding percentage for Toronto and pinching off potential second chance points for the Bucks.
Serge Ibaka opened the game with a point surge, hitting most everything from the outside, but Milwaukee matched with Malcolm Brogdon knocking down a duo of corner threes. Sloppy play reminiscent of last game led to troubling Bucks turnovers though, and Toronto raced to a 14-11 lead on a Powell runout in transition. The hits kept coming, and in what looked like a flipped script from game three, Toronto carried on a 17-0 run to get a 15-point lead and fuel a frenzied crowd. Milwaukee worked back into it riding the meditative post points of Greg Monroe, but finished the quarter down 31-20.
A bevy of back and forth threes ensued to start the second, but Toronto answered anything Milwaukee hit and maintained a 13-point lead after Patrick Patterson knocked home a corner three over Giannis. Kyle Lowry seemed to return to form, hitting a pull-up three as the Raptors continued finding ways to score and extend the lead until they led 51-34 with five minutes left in the quarter. A Milwaukee response found them back in it as Giannis finally started cooking, going 6-6 in the second quarter and attacking Toronto’s interior to make it a 57-48 game at halftime.
Toronto got the second half going with a bang, as Serge Ibaka slipped out in transition for an and-one slam as Thon’s stringbean limbs mashed fruitlessly at his arms. Milwaukee kept themselves in the game by continuing to attack the paint, but Toronto was the beneficiary of several shoddily drawn fouls by Carroll on the perimeter and another Norman Powell three (his third of the game) put Milwaukee behind 55-70. Despite getting it to an 11-point game after a Giannis block on Valanciunas at the summit, Toronto responded with an end of quarter run to put them up 90-73.
The fourth quarter showed little more hope for the Bucks, and their defensive ineptitude merely continued no matter how many times Giannis tried to tear down Toronto’s rims. Garbage time arrived with around three minutes to go, and John Henson christened his playoff appearance with a missed hook shot while Norman Powell rudely slammed home another bounding slam. Bucks lose, 118-93.
- Giannis got some of the mismatches he wanted early in the game. Once he found DeRozan in the post, and it led to a kickout to Snell that ended in a corner three for Brogdon. The next time, he found Lowry on a crossmatch and immediately took him to the paint, although he missed the hook over Ibaka. His shaky finishing in the paint finally rebounded some tonight from his low numbers throughout the series.
- Milwaukee had several of the same inexcusable turnovers in the first quarter of this game that they had all last game. Lazy passes didn’t find their mark and their gaffes often came at the free throw line, giving Toronto enough headway to vault out for a simple bucket, something Norman Powell took full advantage of on an and-one finish through contact.
- Greg Monroe’s six-point run in the first quarter, when Toronto looked ready to mount the Bucks on their wall, was needed. Not only did he negate Ibaka’s rim protection with his shifty post moves and brute force, but he calmed down a Milwaukee offense that was nonexistent. His steadiness, despite his obvious defensive issues as the series has progressed, has been a welcome contribution for Milwaukee’s success thus far. It proved relatively unimportant in the end, but it deserved props.
- Michael Beasley played the last few minutes of the first quarter, but got swapped out for Teletovic to start the second. Telly did his usual, hitting a three and attempting another quick one, but he also turned it over on a drive, as is tradition. Beasley was mucking up the spacing and not delivering on his isolation opportunities, so it made sense to try and juice up their offense by giving Giannis more room to operate in the paint, particularly in the minutes while Ibaka remained on the bench.
- Valanciunas trailed for one possession and got the ball above the break with no one around him and the Raptors up 19. Waiting for the crowd to explode if he somehow put it up was the most palpable moment of the night. They had their lighter sitting next to the fuse; thankfully, he balked.
- This hasn’t been the best series for Jason Terry. The wily veteran hasn’t gotten many minutes (45 coming into tonight) but during those stints he’s viable to get beat by Toronto’s guards, and he’s missed some open threes. He hasn’t hit one yet this series, and missed an easy one in the second quarter. Playing Rashad Vaughn isn’t really an option, so it’s not like the Bucks can alter much, but Terry isn’t playing to the same level he did in the regular season.
- Milwaukee’s free throw performance continues to haunt them. Their woes only persisted in today’s first half. In particular, Giannis seems to be inhabited by the yips, and was only 14-29 in the series after a 2-5 performance in the first half. He finished the game 6-9 though, an encouraging sign going into game six.
- Remember when Thon Maker struggled mightily slamming the ball home off a flat-footed leap? Well, he had no such issues tonight, as he jammed home two swift ones tonight in the second quarter after finding himself alone beneath the hoop. Yet another indication of the strength training paying off for him.
- A bruhaha broke out in the third quarter when Moose got roped up on Valanciunas and Choo-Choo took offense to a foul as hard as stale bread by Middleton. Choo-Choo got in Monroe’s face with a swiping left hand push-off, and it continued Monroe’s involvement with most of the donnybrooks for the Bucks this season.
- In the third quarter, Giannis got an inbounds pass and tossed to Monroe for what looked like an easy layup to make it an 81-71 game. Instead, the refs called Giannis for an offensive foul for tugging at Choo-Choo’s jersey, and Toronto scored six straight points to make it an 18-point game as Milwaukee’s momentum turned to mush. It felt like a last gasp effort by the Bucks’ star, and the team couldn’t respond.
- Khris Middleton missed shootaround today, so his playing status was in doubt, but whoo boy did he come out with a clunker tonight with just eight points. He looked passive, settling for the same off-balance fadeaway shots that have become a staple of his shot diet this series. He did have five steals, but his lost athleticism really means he needs to give it up to create any effective transition attack. Game six can’t be another no-show for Milwaukee’s second star.
- Toronto was averaging 7.8 three-point attempts from the corners coming into tonight, third most in the playoffs. Not surprising given the Bucks penchant for giving up that prime look. However, tonight they had 14 such shots, making six of those. Toronto getting that shot was indicative of their improved ball movement tonight, and went hand in hand with their team’s series-high 68.2 assist percentage.
- Norman Powell, scourge of Bucks Twitter, has completely altered this series, and he is now 7-7 from three-point range after a perfect 4-4 game tonight. Eventually, this guy will miss a three, but his defensive malice against Middleton is just as important, as he continues to give the Bucks guard troubles on the perimeter. He even flat out blocked one of his shots tonight.
- Milwaukee’s defense looked like the D that Toronto carved up in their games earlier in the season. They shifted the ball around adequately, oftentimes making the extra pass to find the open three-point shooter. When that wasn’t working, their stars just hit tough, big time shots. Even Valanciunas looked the most dominant he has all series. Tonight was the first time Milwaukee appeared to be fading against superior competition.
- Game six will take place on Thursday in Milwaukee with the Bucks season on the line.