What a thrilling start to this one. It felt like a true playoff game in all assets — no open seats, a loud crowd, and both teams trading hoops. Eventually, Milwaukee would end on a small run to open up a 34-27 advantage moving onto the second quarter. It’d remain close throughout the second as well, with the Bucks cooling off from time to time. All in all, things would head into the break with Milwaukee clinging onto a slim 57-56 lead.
Toronto would utilize the third quarter to their advantage, overtaking the lead and being up by double digits at times. Frustration would ensue due to missed shots, poor officiating, and overall negative flow. The Raptors would construct a 91-82 lead going into the final quarter.
That lead would stay intact, as Milwaukee could never kick it into high gear and overcome. Toronto would prove to be too much to handle, as they left town with a 123-116 victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had another MVP-esque performance, wrapping up his night with a game-high 43 points and 18 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe completed double-digits on the evening.
For the Raptors, both Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakim had 30 point performances.
The Toronto starters shot very well.
60 percent, to be exact. It’s going to be tough to beat opponents when that’s occurring. When one of the players you’re going up against is Kawhi Leonard and that’s a stat that you have to battle, you’re going to be in for a rough time. Both he and Serge Ibaka carved the Bucks away in the midrange facet of the floor. It really seemed as if they could generate anything they wanted to with ease. Nonetheless, the Bucks still had a chance late, so I suppose that’s a silver lining.
That was definitely some questionable officiating.
I never like to blame officials as the sole reason for a loss, but there were some very slanted calls between the two teams last night. Calls that Kawhi received were not being blown on the other end of the floor for Giannis. An inconsistent whistle could be interpreted by many as the only reason the Bucks would fail to make the Finals, as Ben reminds us:
Everyone that watched the Bucks in 2001 knows they will get screwed by the refs. This is a good opportunity to get experience playing through it.— NoTechBen (@NoTechBen) January 6, 2019
Also, the Raptors are quite talented. I wouldn’t say I’m scared of them (I still think the Bucks are the more complete team in the East), though I think if any team could topple Milwaukee, it’d be them.
It really seemed as if the Bucks missed DJ Wilson.
It still seems sort of odd to type that out. But in a physical game, his defensive prowess felt like it was missed following his hip pointer injury. However, I asked Budenholzer about that postgame, and he somewhat disagreed:
I asked Budenholzer if he felt there was a change in the game when DJ left with an injury. His response: pic.twitter.com/QUsjEA1IyY— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) January 6, 2019
Hopefully the outcome isn’t too serious, as DJ has developed into a very vocal point of the Bucks defensive techniques and would definitely be missed moving forward if he’s out for an extended period of time.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Last night’s attendance was 18,028. Initially, you may not think that’s a lot. And compared to the Bradley Center at full capacity, it’s less. However, it was electric inside Fiserv Forum. There truly wasn’t any standing room left and a playoff atmosphere draped over the entire entertainment district. If these two teams do meet again late in the playoffs, we’re in for a treat.
- Arguably the two best players on the floor were Giannis Antetokounmpo and Pascal Siakim. Siakim is quite fun. The New Mexico State product was a force that Milwaukee had difficulty containing all night long, as his 30 points would represent. He only tallied four rebounds and three assists, but his fingerprints were all over Toronto’s win.
- It was evident that Middleton struggled again with Kawhi flagging him down on defense. Initially, there was some hope early on, but a cold spell canceled any of that. In the end, he’d contribute with 14 points, but Leonard did a seal-proof job of defending him.
- This was the halftime entertainment. A guy balancing a bunch of random stuff on his chin. Jason Smith’s reaction was all of us:
- Hat tip to George Hill on his contributions. Recently, he’s had a little bit of a tough time gaining traction in developing a consistent shot, but last night really seemed to do him well. He’d post double digits with 11 points, a stat that hopefully helps him gain confidence moving forward. If it does, that’d be pretty big.
- I also mentioned the play of Fred VanVleet in my Rapid Recap. It seemed as if he was wearing the black and gold of Wichita State with the way he was playing. Despite the absence of Kyle Lowry, the point guard position still rattled the Bucks, as Fred VanVleet’s 21 points and eight assists exhibit. Gotta tip the cap to him on filling the shoes in a nationally televised contest.
- Last, a big job well done to the Bucks Game Ops: