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NBA Playoffs Preview: Bucks Season on Life Support in Must Win Game Six

It all comes down to this.

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

We can finally say it: tonight is a must win game for the Milwaukee Bucks. After months of using the phrase as a platitude, it truly means something as the offseason is staring the Bucks dead in the eyes. Their 118-93 loss Monday night did little to inspire confidence they can turn things around tonight, but Giannis’ stellar stat line did provide some hope. Either way, they’ll need more help from a supporting cast if the Bucks hope to prolong our discussion of who’s a good fit at number 17 in the draft.

Bucks Update

Well, Giannis sure looked good in game five didn’t he? His 30 points felt like a return to form, and he was able to find far more transition finishes than he had since game one. That’s an encouraging sign, but I’m curious whether that was due to improved play or Toronto just not caring as much due to their engorged lead. For the sake of our optimism, let’s go with the former for now.

Khris Middleton looked completely out of sorts, and some of that was probably due to whatever kept him out of shootaround that morning. Reportedly, he was still feeling gnarly when he returned to the Cream City.

The stake are high tonight, and Milwaukee will need more than a passable 19-point performance from Malcolm Brogdon as the highlight of their supporting cast if they hope to take this to a seventh game. I, for one, am not quite ready to start debating draft prospects. Please win this one Bucks. DraftExpress can wait.

Raptors Update

Remember how we were all feeling after game three? Remember that jubilation? Boy that was a fun time. Well, the Raptors fans are probably feeling at least that high and a little more considering the series win is within their grasp. Norman Powell’s insertion to the starting lineup has shifted this series’ fortunes, and his 25-point game five performance was just the latest example of how his athleticism and shotmaking propelled Toronto past Milwaukee the last two games.

While the Bucks could take solace that the Raptors may not shoot as well tonight from deep (44.4%), Milwaukee shot even better (45.5%) on only five less attempts (22). Toronto could be presuming an opponent regression as much as Milwaukee could. The Raptors ball movement in game five was their finest of the series, and their 28 assists on 41 baskets led to a series-high 68.3% assist percentage. That’s a far cry from their league-worst regular season 47%. They belied the isolation expectations that plagued them in the first few games, and even when they did isolate, they managed to hit tough shots, going 10-19 on midrange buckets outside the restricted area. Oh, and to top it all off, the Raptors managed to skewer the Bucks like fresh venison from the corners, going 6-14. All in all, a consuming performance by a Raptors team that hadn’t flashed a tip-top game yet.

They can close this series out with a win tonight and advance to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in round two.