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Milwaukee vs. Toronto: Bucks Lackadaisical Defensive Effort Leads to a Drubbing

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Folks, this is officially a series...

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks got suffocated by the Toronto Raptors in a 120-102 loss that now evens the series at 2-2 headed back to the Fiserv Forum. The Bucks simply had no answer defensively for the Raptors, and the lack of successful adjustments in game four was certainly eye-opening.

Three Observations

Eric Bledsoe has been Toronto’s MVP thus far.

We are not seeing the same Bledsoe from the regular season and unfortunately, we’re seeing the same one that got owned by Terry Rozier in the postseason last year. In 20 minutes he scored only five points on 2-of-7 shooting. His decision making has been poor throughout the series and even though he did not commit a turnover last night, his inability to knock down anything has totally killed Milwaukee. The Raptors aren’t even defending him on offense, making life more difficult for the rest of the Bucks starting five. Kyle Lowry is just toying with Bledsoe this series. It’s fair to wonder if taking him out of the starting five is a solution, but I doubt that will be the case. His porous performance is a big reason as to why this series is all knotted up,

Nothing has come easy for Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Credit the Raptors defense, as they’ve successfully negated Giannis’ impact in the half court. Their physicality with him on the defensive end has certainly thrown him off his usual rhythm. However, he actually got off to a fast start in the first 4.5 minutes of game four as he was able to get easy buckets in transition. However, that was pretty much it. He still made 9-of-17 shots for 25 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. The bad? Four turnovers and 6-of-10 shooting from the foul line. When other Bucks are failing to knock down their shots, it’s going to make Antetokounmpo’s life hell, and we saw that yesterday. Kudos to the Raptors, though. They’ve made all the right adjustments thus far. Let’s see how he bounces back in front of the home crowd tomorrow night in a pivotal game five.

Defense was optional.

Milwaukee’s defensive effort in game four was poor and that is putting it nicely. They were so focused on limiting a hobbled Kawhi Leonard that they were content leaving their other shooters wide open. Granted, Fred VanVleet has struggled but you cannot give an NBA player a WIDE-OPEN look each time down the floor…especially at home. The Bucks over-helping on Kawhi led to Norman Powell dropping 18 points (plus-29) and saw Serge Ibaka drop most of his open looks for 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The Bucks letting Marc Gasol stand completely alone on the perimeter did not work either as he made 3-of-6 tries from deep for 17 points. Overall, Toronto shot 47.1 percent from the floor and they made 14 three-pointers. Head coach Mike Budenholzer NEEDS to adjust defensively or else game five could get ugly. I have faith that he will, though.

Bonus Bucks

  • Khris Middleton was freaking awesome. He dropped 30 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. Milwaukee needed someone to step up, and he absolutely did that and more. Granted, he did commit some silly fouls, but he also dropped some beautiful dimes throughout last night’s contest. It is not encouraging to lose when Middleton drops 30 points.
  • Aside from his game one explosion, Brook Lopez has been neutralized on both ends. He scored only eight points yesterday and had a handful of defensive lapses. He’s going to need to start respecting Marc Gasol’s ability to shoot the basketball.
  • Malcolm Brogdon was way off. He shot only 2-of-11 from the floor and a lot of those shots were great looks. We know the Raptors have been playing heavy minutes for the majority of the postseason, but Milwaukee looked like the more exhausted team last night. A lot of those misses were short.
  • The Bucks shot a respectable 46.3 percent from deep and did make 11 three-pointers…BUT the 17-of-26 shooting from the foul line is just flat out unacceptable.