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Milwaukee vs. Toronto: Bucks Clinch Tiebreaker Over Raptors

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The Bucks nearly squandered a 24-point lead, but weathered the storm to hold off the Raptors.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks were able to outlast the Toronto Raptors 105-92 to clinch the tiebreaker for the season series. Not only did they clinch the tiebreaker against the Raptors, but they also picked up their 37th victory of the season and are now 24 games over .500 for the first time since 1986. The win also clinched Mike Budenholzer’s spot in the All-Star game as the head coach for the East. What a time to be alive. Here are three Bucks who stood out from last night’s statement marathon.

Limited with foul trouble, Giannis Antetokounmpo was still able to flourish.

He ended the game with 19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 28 foul-plagued minutes. He committed only one turnover and converted on 7-of-13 shots and 4-of-5 free throws. He was able to slice and dice his way to easy buckets in the paint numerous times, and even threw in a few gorgeous finishes while contorting his body in midair. Toronto has defended Giannis “well” in the past, but if anything was stopping him last night it was the 5 fouls. When it looked like he found his rhythm offensively, he’d pick up a silly foul on a shot contest and have to head to the bench for an extended period. Fouling aside, he played a tremendous game on the defensive end. He made life difficult for multiple Raptors players and even got the best of Kawhi Leonard on several occasions. As per usual, there were multiple highlights from the Greek Freak, but this ferocious hammer was beautiful.

Khris Middleton, All-Star.

He surely lived up to the honor against Toronto. He scored 18 points while stuffing the stat sheet with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals on a team-high 35 minutes. He was very efficient offensively, knocking down an array of baseline jumpers and was not forcing the issue whatsoever. He converted on 7-of-9 shots from the floor and swooshed his only three attempted of the game. With Giannis on the bench a decent amount in the fourth, Middleton’s defensive prowess was a key proponent in the Bucks maintaining their lead even when it looked like the Raptors were about to change the whole complexion of the game. We all knew he was an all-star even before this nomination, though.

*Tom Hanks voice* WILLLLLSSSSSOOOOOOONNNNN!!!!

After hitting a rough stretch recently, D.J. Wilson came up huge in 22 minutes off the bench for the Bucks. He dropped a career-high 16 points while also adding 5 boards, 1 assist, 2 steals, and one blocked shot. From the minute he entered the game he made his presence felt with his mobility on the defensive end and his ability to knock down perimeter shots. He made 3-of-6 threes and really provided coach Bud what the Bucks needed on both ends. He showed great hands on multiple possessions, none more impressive than his and-one finish in the third quarter off of a tricky pass from Antetokounmpo. Not quite sure he completes that play last season. Wilson has bounced back nicely the last two games after going scoreless in three consecutive contests.

As for the Raptors, they were led by Pascal Siakam who dropped 28 points but didn’t really do much else. The Bucks made Kawhi Leonard’s life miserable last night as he was only able to muster 16 points on 20 shots. Yikes. Noted Bucks killer Serge Ibaka was quiet with only 12 points on 15 shots.

Bonus Bucks

  • Malcolm Brogdon...human dagger. Even though he only scored 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, he hit the three that put the nail in the Raptors’ coffin. He also provided the Bucks with some stellar defense on Kawhi. The President plus-21. I wonder if he’ll sneak into the All-Star game as a replacement?
  • Eric Bledsoe was a roller coaster but played well for the most part. He dropped 14 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals while committing 4 turnovers. Defensively, he showed excellent anticipation and jumped the passing lane a multitude of time to force turnovers. E-Bled finished a team-best plus-24.
  • George Hill had 10 points off the bench including a four-point play.
  • The Bucks made 49.4 percent of their shots and 36.8 percent of their threes (14-of-38)
  • The Bucks won the rebounding edge 50-39.