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NBA Playoffs Final Score: Bucks Unable to Cap Off Improbable Comeback, 92-89

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Milwaukee’s season comes to an end as they fall to Toronto in Game 6

NBA: Playoffs-Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the Rockets closing out Oklahoma City the other night, the Bucks game moved up to a 6 p.m. start. Add in the NFL Draft and that doesn’t exactly produce a jam packed crowd, which was unfortunately the case at tip-off. Thankfully, that didn’t prevent a raucous atmosphere, as the BMO stayed throughout the Bucks’ swoon and eventual upward swing in a manic closeout game. Despite Giannis nearly going the distance (he only rested for a little over a minute) and putting up 34 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, Milwaukee couldn’t complete their 25 point comeback and their season concluded tonight.

To start though, the crowd was game for this one. Combine that atmosphere with a pair of Thon blocks and some baskets, and things get pretty loud. Milwaukee immediately came out swinging, pushing the lead to 8-2 and forcing Duane Casey to take a timeout.

Giannis would score 10 points in the first four minutes of play, but that wasn’t enough to build a lead on Toronto, who kept lingering around. They’d take their first lead of the game at the 5:19 mark on a Jonas Valancuinas lay-in to make it 18-17 in their favor. A pair of turnovers from Khris Middleton was key in the Raptors limiting the momentum generated by the Bradley Center crowd.

Turnovers, turnovers and some more turnovers continued to unfold as the quarter winded down and Toronto didn’t waste their opportunities. DeMar DeRozan continued to put the ball through the hoop, scratching the surface with 10 points. With a friendly whistle on their side, the Raps ended the quarter grooming a 28-24 advantage over Milwaukee. Oh yeah, the six turnovers weren’t ideal either.

Toronto’s lead would bloom to seven just minutes into the second quarter, with the Bucks fighting to keep it close. The lineup of Terry, Delly, Brogdon, Giannis and Henson didn’t mesh well at all, as Toronto just continued to slice and dice the Milwaukee defense. While all of this was going on, Khris Middleton and Thon Maker continued to ride the pine. That resulted in the Raptors holding a nine point lead with 5:05 to go in the half. That combined with the poor shooting (floating around 35 percent) was a disastrous recipe, as Toronto frequently clung to a double-digit lead as the first half ticked away.

Momentum continued to tilt in Toronto’s advantage. Milwaukee could never muster a string of points to get them back in the game and the Raptors went to the locker room with a 51-38 advantage. A 6-of-22 shooting performance in the second quarter created a hole for the Bucks to dig themselves out of.

The slide continued for Milwaukee as the third quarter began. A 9-4 Toronto run polished an 18 point deficit for the Bucks, and you could just feel the energy deflating out of the arena. That lead would eventually reach a disappointing 20 points, and Milwaukee never could conjure up an answer.

Milwaukee Bucks 2016-17 season time of death: 7:44 p.m. (Editor’s Note: Gabe valiantly left this in despite the Bucks’ dramatic comeback)

The above line occurred when DeMarre Carroll hit a contested three over Giannis. That provided Toronto with a 25 point cushion. This has me asking, can Eric Thames play basketball?

But just when you thought it was all done and dusted, the Bucks seemingly came back to life. A 15-3 run slashed the Toronto lead to 74-61 and forced Dwayne Casey to opt for a timeout and more importantly, the crowd was back into it. It would stay that way as the third quarter buzzer went off.

The fourth quarter got started with the crowd LIT. A few possessions in, a Greg Monroe lay-in made it a single-digit game. Yes, a SINGLE-DIGIT GAME. But then what has doomed this team in the recent games of this series — turnovers -- began to kick in. The scrappiness of Toronto got the upper hand when they stole the basketball following a Milwaukee defensive rebound, which pushed the lead back to 10. Then a Matthew Dellavedova turnover occurred. Not a pretty sequence of events.

But with a chance to trim the Toronto lead to just six, Antetokounmpo was unable to convert on a pair of free throws. Fatigue was clearly setting in, but he’ll be the first to tell you that that’s no excuse. However, he immediately made up for it with an emphatic block on the other end of the court.

From there, Giannis kept TRUCKING down the court and picking up foul calls, repeatedly sending him to the line. He was RELENTLESS. A Khris Middleton 3-pointer AND-1 made it a one point game (he would miss on the free throw).

And then, The Entertainer took the stage. A Jason Terry 3-pointer provided the Bucks with a two point lead at 80-78 with 3:06 to go AND THE JET WAS CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF. The Bucks had their first lead since, well, I don’t know when. But it was a looooooong time.

But then -- it all came back to baseline threes. With 90 seconds left, Cory Joseph sank one from the corner with no Buck anywhere near him, handing Toronto an 85-82 advantage. Khris Middleton would try to answer on the other end, but it just ended up being a desperation heave that came nowhere near the hoop as the shot clock was set to expire.

Following an in-bounds pass, DeMar DeRozan crammed one home. On the ensuing Bucks possession, a Khris Middleton pass flew into a fan sitting sideline and gave Toronto the basketball up five with just seconds remaining. However, the Bucks wouldn’t go away just yet. A Jason Terry 3-pointer made it a two point deficit with DeMar DeRozan at the line. He’d split the pair, and then with 3.1 seconds left, a Giannis dunk (WHY???) made it a single point game, but the Bucks lost 92-89.

It was a fun season, everybody. I’m disappointed that time of death statement didn’t come back to haunt me.

Thoughts

  • Giannis was a force to be reckoned with right as the ball was tipped. He immediately locked in on Serge Ibaka, forcing him to deal with his dribble drive. The Greek Freak tallied the Bucks’ first eight points before Toronto resolved to calling a timeout. He’d eventually finish the first quarter with 14 points.
  • When the Raptors went on their run to close out the first quarter, I found it interesting how the Bucks ran their offense. Matthew Dellavedova entered the game and soon drove to the basket on his own. Giannis was still out on the court, but they weren’t playing through him. Just sort of puzzling, especially considering the start he had. It seemed as if he was invisible out there for a few moments.
  • It seemed that right when Thon was taken out of the game, all energy left with him. That’s when Toronto began their run and Milwaukee never really re-discovered the mantra from those opening few minutes. Instead, Kidd opted to play Greg Monroe and John Henson (once Moose reached foul trouble).
  • The 3-point arc wasn’t Milwaukee’s friend in the first half, plain and simple. The team combined for a 1-for-9 effort from deep. In fact, just looking at the shot chart in general during that first half was painful (14-for-39, yikes). Coming into tonight, the Bucks were holding the top 3-point percentage (42.0 percent) during the postseason. It was anything but that tonight ending at 36.8% for the game.
  • It just felt as if when Kidd opted to play Henson for an extended period of time, things began to crumble. I guess I can somewhat see where he was coming from with Monroe having foul trouble, but I think that situation warrants Thon to be back out on the floor — especially after those electric four blocks in the first quarter. Instead, he went to a rusty John Henson who only received garbage time minutes in Game 5. I guess I don’t see that being a viable option considering you’re going up against a hungry Toronto team that’s looking to close a series out.
  • The crowd was really cool tonight. Like, wow. The Bucks were down by 25 and they were cheering them on with everything they could, and it eventually transpired in the late third quarter comeback. Super awesome to see.
  • The turnovers continued to bite this team in the fourth quarter. It just seemed as if the Bucks were going too fast. They couldn’t corral that defensive rebound cleanly and that resulted in a simple Kyle Lowry lay-in. Then Matthew Dellavedova went all Usain Bolt and sprinted down the court in a frantic manner, resulting in another turnover. Just frustrating to see those continue to occur in such a close game.
  • Missed free throws down the stretch proved to be brutal for Milwaukee. Giannis missed a pair and then Dellavedova went 1-for-2 soon after that. There’s a reason they’re called free throws and in games like these, you’re expected to make them. It was pretty disappointing that they couldn’t fall tonight, or any of the recent games.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is a warrior. He put this team, this organization, and this city on his shoulders tonight as he was just heaving out there. We’re so, so, so incredibly lucky to have him be a Milwaukee Buck.
  • I do not know why Giannis dunked that basketball.