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Milwaukee vs. Toronto: Giannis-less Bucks Fall to Raptors, 114-106

Turnovers continue to plague Milwaukee

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that didn’t feature the full firepower of both teams, the Raptors would get the victory in what could be preview of a rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals. They ended up knocking off the Bucks, 114-106.

Well, to start things off, it’s a little surprising that this game was even played:

Eventually, tip-off would come around and the two teams began to square off. Pat Connaughton, who replaced Giannis Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup (DNP — oral surgery), quickly got things started, scoring 10 of Milwaukee’s first 13 points. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only one that was hot to start, as Norman Powell was a fast spark for the Raptors. It seems as if he’s always the one that gets hot every game vs. Milwaukee, and sure enough, even in the crazy circumstances we find ourselves in down in the bubble, it happens again. Matt Thomas also made contributions for Toronto, finishing the quarter with 12 points and helped grant Toronto a 36-31 lead after one.

Turnovers continued to stain the Bucks in the second quarter and Toronto made sure to take advantage. Add in the fact that Norman Powell kept being the Bucks killer we all know him to be, and it wasn’t a pretty sight for the Bucks. Pascal Siakam would sink a three just before halftime, as that capped off a 7-0 Toronto run. At intermission, the Raptors led the Bucks, 67-53.

The Bucks would make their best attempts to nip things to single digits throughout the third quarter and they were momentarily successful, but not for long. Toronto continued to maintain control of the game, continuing to take advantage of the turnovers that Milwaukee continued to pile up. Come the fourth quarter, the Raptors groomed an 88-75 lead.

The Raptors would continue their hot showing by going on a run to start the fourth that saw their lead grow to 20+ points, which really proved to be the tipping point. The Bucks would make it single digits a few times in the fourth quarter, but ultimately, the Raptors never came too close to relinquishing their advantage and earned a 114-106 win.

Chris Boucher led the way for all scorers with 25 points off the bench for Toronto. Norman Powell continued to inflict damage on Milwaukee, tallying up 21 points.

Kyle Korver was the leading point getter for the Bucks, concluding his efforts with 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting (all from deep). Khris Middleton aided with 17 points of his own.

Three Observations

Turnovers, turnovers, and more turnovers.

It’s definitely been the biggest problem for the Bucks during this journey in the bubble, and continued to be so last night vs. the Raptors. I mentioned it in Stat That Stood Out, but it’s getting to the point where it’s going to be crucial for the Bucks to sort things out. What’s the reason behind the sloppy play? Is it miscommunication? Is it a straight up lack of communication? Are players still shaking the rust off? Whatever it is, it’s imperative for the Bucks to figure things out. If this type of play continues into the playoffs, it’d be a recipe for disaster. However, I’m not panicking quite yet, as I still think they can figure things out — but it is a little unnerving.

What’s going on with that free throw shooting?

It was an off night from the charity stripe for Milwaukee, as the team collectively went 26-of-35 from the line. The Bucks aren’t the greatest free throw shooting team out there (they’re actually one of the worst, currently sitting at 26th in the league at 74.4 percent). They’d eventually shoot better as the game progressed, but still, you’d like to see them improve on those numbers. I know this game was without Giannis and that he’ll be getting to the line a whole lot more, but we all know even he has his struggles. They’re called free throws for a reason (free points) and the more the Bucks can take advantage of those, the better off they’ll be.

When are we going to see a breakout game from Donte DiVincenzo?

Last night would’ve been a great chance for Donte to provide a breakout performance in the bubble, but unfortunately, things fizzled out. Coming into the restart, I viewed him as one of the most important Bucks in their quest for a championship. I still hold that belief, as the value he brings to the team when he’s on his game both offensively and defensively is tough to replicate. We all know the spark he can provide in earning steals and waiting in the crevasses of the gaps and getting his fingertips on the ball. Unfortunately, he’s yet to put together a complete, well-rounded game so far in the bubble. You’d anticipate that he’s going to be one of the players that gets a lot of minutes in these meaningless upcoming games. Let’s just hope that he uses them to get on a role as the team heads into postseason play.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • You could really tell that the Bucks were missing Giannis in many facets of the game, including fast break points. Milwaukee had just two fast break points compared to Toronto’s 16. Those turnovers also had a role in that.
  • Kyle Korver had a stretch where he hit a few big shots, which is always great to see. He’d end up being the Bucks’ leading scorer, concluding his night with 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from downtown. You know he’s going to be one of the X-Factors in Milwaukee’s playoff run, so anytime you can get momentum under his belt is a big deal. He also took a shot to the face, which was pretty much a microcosm of the Bucks’ night.
  • After being held scoreless in the first half, Eric Bledsoe worked to be a little more aggressive in the second half. He’d ultimately finish at 11 points, but it was good to see flashes of his aggressiveness. That’s a major necessity for Milwaukee’s success come postseason time.
  • Norman Powell continues to torch the Bucks. In other news, water is wet. He’d finish his evening with 21 points. I mean, at this point, I’d label him as the Bucks’ version of Jay Bruce. For those who aren’t baseball fans, Jay Bruce was a member of the Cincinnati Reds that would always crush Brewers pitching whenever he faced them. I still shudder when I hear that name.
  • Last, seeing Chris Boucher light things up for the Raptors really makes you think what if...