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Milwaukee vs. Toronto: Bucks Silence Raptors To Earn Key Win

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The Bucks put up an all-time clinic defensively in the second half.

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

With the Milwaukee Bucks playing their second game in as many nights, they came out of the gate sluggish on Tuesday night against the defending NBA Champions, Toronto Raptors.

It looked like the Raptors were going to blow the game open for good in the second quarter when their reserves started going bananas from deep and the Bucks could not buy a bucket. However, the Bucks rallied in the final few minutes and forced some misses defensively to shrink the deficit to two points going into halftime.

The Bucks in the third quarter completely flummoxed Toronto on both ends of the floor. They were getting to the paint with ease and whipping the ball around the perimeter. Defensively, the Raps were missing the three-pointers that they were making in the first half and were also getting stonewalled in the paint.

When the dust settled, the Bucks secured their 50th victory of the season by a final tally of 108-97.

Three Bucks

Khris Middleton continues to shine.

He picked up right where he left off after torturing Washington for 40 points on Monday night. While he started the game throwing up bricks, Middleton stayed persistent and did not shy away from hoisting it up. He finished the victory with a team-high 22 points and added eight boards. He converted on 7-of-14 shots overall and 2-of-4 from deep. When it looked like Toronto was starting to mount a comeback midway through the fourth quarter Middleton hit some timely beautiful midrange jumpers to silence the crowd. With Toronto successfully defending Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the night, the Bucks needed someone to step up in a huge way and Khris answered. It is hard not to be in love with the shooters mentality he has adapted over the last two months.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had to WORK for everything last night.

Credit to the home team, though. Toronto is one of the few teams that has proved that they can wall-off Giannis and successfully minimize his effectiveness offensively. He played 38 tough minutes and gutted out 19 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists, and three blocked shots. With Toronto throwing the kitchen sink at the Greek Freak, his passing was on full display throughout Tuesday’s huge victory. Even though he had a few careless turnovers that should have been easy assists, the way he was passing out of double-teams was remarkable. It should be illegal for someone that tall and long to be able to make passes the way he was last night. While he made only 5-of-14 shots overall, I did not feel like he was forcing the issue much at all. Giannis made 2-of-4 shots from deep, including the dagger late in the fourth. * chefs kiss *

Eric Bledsoe played phenomenal...again!

I am not sure what he did over the all-star break, but it’s working. He came out aggressively offensively, continually attacking the basket and getting to the foul line. With Milwaukee not being able to muster much offensively in the early going, Bledsoe was the only one successfully collapsing Toronto’s defense and getting open looks for his teammates. Regardless of the 5-of-14 shooting, last night was the Eric Bledsoe this Bucks team needs in the playoffs. While his shot was not falling, he did not get discouraged. Instead, he stuck to what worked in the early going and kept knifing his way into the paint. He had only four assists to his ledger, but he created a multitude of points just off his penetration. He also did a fantastic job on the defensive end, but that is a given at this point.

Bonus Bits

  • Brook Lopez was the anchor to this Bucks defense. He swatted five shots in 28 minutes and really made his presence felt in the second half when the Raptors were trying to funnel their offense in the paint. Splash Mountain also added 15 points for good measure.
  • He made only 1-of-6 shots from the field, but Donte DiVincenzo was putting in some SERIOUS work on the offensive glass. It did not matter that he was in the land of the giants, he kept multiple possessions alive by being feisty and tipping the ball back out.
  • The Raptors made 18 three-pointers and lost. You hate to see it.