After a thrilling come from behind victory in game one, the Milwaukee Bucks are hoping to put their home stamp on this series and go up 2-0 with a win against the Toronto Raptors.
Milwaukee looked a tad out of sorts offensively in game one, primarily due to their complete inability to stroke the ball from deep. A 6/23 shooting half will do that to you. Toronto was excellent at switching and sending the kitchen sink at Giannis Antetokounmpo to get him out of rhythm going to the basket. An 0/11 3-point performance in the third followed. Then Splash Mountain happened. Brook Lopez, who had been the richest vein of offense for Milwaukee all game, went off for 14 in the fourth quarter includint several key defensive plays down the stretch smothering Kawhi Leonard. A 10-0 run in the final 3:30 sealed the 108-100 win. The Bucks are surely hoping that their shooting touch returns and they can do further damage to the Raptors without having to rely on a late mean reversion. This note made a lot of sense to me:
With normal 3pt shooting performances from TOR & MIL, the Bucks should've won G1 by over 20 points. Not a good sign for Toronto. https://t.co/mm75M8hij8— Krishna Narsu (@knarsu3) May 16, 2019
If the Bucks can slow down Kawhi Leonard again and bottle up Siakam, they should have a good shot of winning this one. Nikola Mirotic will also stay in the starting lineup for Milwaukee. On the injury front, D.J. Wilson is officially off the injury report now, leaving only Donte DiVincenzo and Pau Gasol on the mend.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Pardon me for repeating our “player to watch” two games in a row, but Bledsoe’s game one performance warrants it. Outside of an aggressive stint to start the third quarter, Bledsoe was content to pull up and settle for jumpers against the Raptors. That simply won’t do. The guy is finishing like a big man at the rim, he has the speed advantage over Kyle Lowry and Milwaukee’s other players can space the floor to try and open the lane for him. Eventually, he has to break out of his 3-point spell, but he needs to play his brand of steady driving basketball in this series. Keep up the D on Kyle Lowry though, those pull-up triples won’t fall all series.
I’m probably guilty of thinking far too much in terms of the ““Toronto HAD to win that type of game one or this is over.” They will have some adjustments ready I’m sure, Serge Ibaka may take more Gasol minutes and hoist up quick midrange jumpers off pick and pops. Kawhi will probably hit more shots. The transition scoring efficiency probably won’t be as stark this time around. Still, that first half against Milwaukee when their drive and kick game fed a free-flowing offense while their defense executed in sync, they were a scary team. And they still only led by 8. That is concerning. The Bucks just have more ample depth, which also means more potential players to pick up for a slouching performance. The Raptors don’t have that luxury.
Player to Watch: Pascal Siakam
The man went off against the Bucks in the regular season, but couldn’t get in a rhythm after the first half. He roasted the birthday boy Ersan Ilyasova in their first few matchups, but couldn’t seem to get himself going against Giannis Antetokounmpo. No surprises there. Toronto needs another complement to Lowry and Leonard if they’re gonna win. Given their personnel, Siakam’s gotta be that guy if they’re gonna pull the upset.
Game 2: Against the Raptors, the Bucks will
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)