For the fifth game in a row, the Milwaukee Bucks would fall again, this time yet again at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, 110-96.
The Bucks would use a hot start from Bryn Forbes to quickly capture the lead, but the Raptors would exhibit their grittiness and keep things close. However, an explosion of 15 first quarter points from Bucks killer Norman Powell would provide the wind behind the Raptors’ sails to give them a 33-26 advantage after one.
Toronto would embark on a run to start the second quarter that saw them capture a double-digit lead and leaving the Bucks looking clueless sometimes. Milwaukee’s half-court offense sputtered to a halt and they weren’t able to get anything going. They also were unable to get any fast-break points in the first half. in the Meanwhile, the Raptors used awareness and physicality to build up their lead to 58-41 at half.
It wouldn’t get any better in the third quarter. Toronto would continue to implement their will and the Bucks simply had no answer. They’d continue look dazed and confused — that’d be until Thanasis Antetokounmpo entered the game. He’d provide a bolster of energy and help Milwaukee slice things to a manageable deficit. Transitioning into the fourth quarter, the Bucks found themselves down by 13 points, 85-72.
It’d be pretty much over from that point on. The Bucks had what seemed like a sliver of a chance when they cut the lead to just ten points, but it quickly evaporated following a 7-0 run by the Raptors. That would be enough to slam the door and put the Bucks to bed. They’d end up falling, 110-96.
Norman Powell would lead all scorers with 29 points. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo would lead the way with 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting.
What Did We Learn?
We learned that it was another frustrating loss for Bucks fans. The team hasn’t seen a five game losing streak since the 2017 season, so this is definitely some uncharted territory for this squad. However, I think it’s important to remember that the players aren’t necessarily as frustrated as fans. This was exemplified by an answer that Giannis gave when asked by Zora Stephenson about the difference between his frustrations from last year (after a losing skid) and seeing more composure from adversity this season. I thought it was an extremely insightful answer on Giannis’ part and wanted to share with you all:
“I’m older. Obviously, you want to get better, you want to improve, you want to build good habits. But the last five games in a row, you know like, you can’t kill yourself. We have another one tomorrow. It’s a long season. I think you’re 100% right about last year I would’ve been like be mad and really frustrated and not talk to anybody after the game. But I try to better myself, try to become a better player, a better person, realize it’s a long season — we have 45 games left and have another one tomorrow. To be honest with you, it kind of feels good. I like facing adversity. I like being knocked down. You know, because that’s the only way you improve. When things go well and go your way, you kind of not know the other side. You don’t feel it. Now, we feel the other side. We feel being down. We can feel losing five in a row — how it feels. You know, we know how it feels when our spirit’s not there. We know it feels when we’re not playing well — when we’re not making shots. And when things start going well, you don’t want to come back here. You don’t want to come to this state of mind that we are right now. You want to try and do whatever it takes to avoid it. I think it’s going to help us as a team to be mentally tougher, to have to break it — it’s going to make us better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not frustrated. It doesn’t worry me as much. We’ve got another one tomorrow. We got to go out there and play good basketball, play with some good energy, everybody got to bring it — the Bucks gotta bring it, I gotta bring it. And we might not win tomorrow, but what our actions are about. If our actions are good and we’re competitive when we play, I’m good. I’m good with it.”
Norman Powell continues to kill the Bucks.
I swear, there hasn’t been a single game in his career against Milwaukee that Norman Powell has not gone absolutely bonkers. He quickly reminded us why he’s known as one of the best Bucks killers last night when he immediately rattled off 15 points in the opening period. He’d really be feeling it from the 3-point arc throughout the night, exemplified by his four treys on the night. When it was all said and done, he’d tally 29 points, which proved to be the game-high. I don’t know if he just always thinks back to the trade the Bucks made where they acquired Greivis Vazquez for a first round pick (the Raptors would then select Powell), but man, it seems like he’s always out for revenge against Milwaukee.
There wasn’t a lot of action for Brook Lopez last night.
Playing only 20 minutes on the evening, Brook Lopez didn’t see as much action as he totally does.
Here’s what Bud had to say about that decision postgame:
“We finally caught a little bit of momentum at some point in the third quarter and they’re playing smaller, more guys around the perimeter, more guys that can dribble drive...you know, we just went with a different group. It felt like those guys were playing well so we kind of just rode that group and rode it through the fourth quarter too.”
Lopez would end up finishing with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting. The rational behind that decision exists, as that group (which included Thanasis) was the most energy the Bucks showed all game and helped them have a fighting chance. Ultimately, they were unable to get it done and will hope for stronger results tomorrow vs. Oklahoma City.
Khris Middleton continued to struggle with the double-team.
For the second consecutive night, the Raptors made life difficult for Khris Middleton by double-teaming him. In the first half, he’d end up committing five turnovers. Here’s how Bud viewed that matter:
“You know, I mean, again, we gotta put him in better spots. As coaches, we gotta give him more space, more opportunity, better outlets. We gotta just keep working on it.”
Middleton would follow that up with the below:
“I don’t think there was much of a difference between the two nights. I think I made the same mistakes and just wasn’t strong enough with the ball.”
It will be big to see if Middleton is able to rebound tonight vs. the Thunder. It’s well understood just how impactful he is to this offense when things are clicking and just how far south things can go when he’s off.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- At one point, the Bucks would resort to the three big lineup again (Giannis, Brook, Portis) and it didn’t go as according to plan. It’d be interesting to see if Bud goes to this again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this gets out of the gameplan. It didn’t work too well.
- The half-court offense really struggled once again. Way too many times, Giannis was at the top of the key waiting for the offense to flow. It wouldn’t be until late in the game where Antetokounmpo would score on a designed play. Milwaukee will look to get back on the right track tonight vs. Oklahoma City and provide a more efficient offensive output.
- You gotta tip your cap to Thanasis. On a night where things seemed extremely bleak, he was one of the lone bright spots. As soon as he was out on the floor in the third quarter, the Bucks caught a spark. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to lead them back into it, but it was very evident that he had made a difference.