Game 4 is going to tell a lot about this series. A Milwaukee Bucks win would put them comfortably in the driver seat for a Finals matchup with Golden State. A Toronto Raptors win would even the series and put Milwaukee’s homecourt advantage to the test. We have Dylan from Raptors HQ able to answer questions from the fallout after Game 3
Toronto threw a different defensive look at Milwaukee throwing Kawhi on Giannis and doubling him. It was a success as it forced eight Giannis turnovers. Is this a flash of the pan type of thing or did Nurse unlock something special?
It was smart of Nurse to double Giannis in the post with Kawhi as his primary defender. While Kawhi on Giannis may seem like a bit of a size mismatch, Leonard’s quick hands and basketball IQ prevent Giannis from consistently finding passing lanes to open shooters. Double-teaming him in the post adds an extra layer of rim protection over which Giannis struggled to finish on Sunday. While this strategy proved effective last game, it likely won’t continue to work to the same degree moving forward. Khris Middleton and Nikola Mirotic both had poor shooting nights, and they’re largely the recipients of Giannis’ passes out of the post. If they hit their shots at a rate closer to their season average, the Raptors would be in trouble.
With the game going into double overtime, there was a lot of minutes on some of the players most notably Siakam (51 minutes) and Kawhi (52 minutes and banged up). Is there concern that Kawhi’s injury could affect his performance?
Kawhi was limping on Sunday night, but it didn’t seem to matter. He still left his heart out on the court, scoring timely buckets and coming up with clutch defensive plays to close the game. After having rested Kawhi for much of the season, it’s certainly an uneasy feeling knowing he’s harboring an injury. Still, he finished the game strong and I expect a couple days’ rest will do him some good. If he struggles next game, I expect Siakam to pick up his slack. Siakam may have been caught off guard by the bright lights a few times this postseason, but he’s young, so he can handle extra minutes. I’m consistently impressed by his tenacity on both ends of the floor; if anyone can supplement Kawhi’s scoring, it’s Pascal.
Now that you got on the board with the Game 3 win, how are you feeling heading into Game 4 and the rest of the series?
Of course, I feel better about the Raptors’ chances now considering the alternative ending to this game. However, I’m a generally anxious and pessimistic person so I always fear the worst and am surprised by the best. The Bucks are an excellent team, and they’re not always going to have poor shooting nights like this. Moreover, Marc Gasol is a central part of the Raptors’ offense. The Bucks are adding pressure on Kawhi, leading to open three opportunities. Before Sunday night, Marc hadn’t had an efficient offensive game in a while, and the possibility of a regression lingers in my mind.
In my opinion, these teams are pretty evenly matched. Just as easily as the Raptors could be up 2-1 after a heartbreaking Game 1 loss, the Bucks could be one game away from a sweep. I don’t feel comfortable with how this series has gone by any means, but at least now there’s a little voice in my head saying, “anything’s possible!”
Thanks again to Dylan for always answering our questions, feel free to check out Kyle’s answers over at Raptors HQ here.