Without Giannis, the Bucks were unable to get the job in this one, pushing their losing skid to two games. They’d fall to the Toronto Raptors, 117-111.
Milwaukee fell behind early in this one, seeing themselves in a double-digit deficit midway through the first quarter. After an initial cold start from deep, the Bucks started to warm up on from beyond the perimeter. In fact, they’d embark on a 15-0 run that put them in full control of things to close out the quarter. Going into the second, Milwaukee held onto a 41-35 lead.
Both teams would continue hot shooting from beyond the perimeter. At the break, the Bucks were shooting 62.8 percent from the perimeter and Toronto was shooting 60 percent. DeMarcus Cousins would lead the Milwaukee offense with 15 points off the bench. Jordan Nwora added in 13 of his own. At half, the Bucks led by nine, 77-68. Those 77 points would tie the most the Bucks have scored in a half this season — and keep in mind, they were without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Raptors kept shooting the ball at a very hot rate, regaining the lead over Milwaukee late in the period. Pascal Siakam began to really find an ignition, as he had 26 points for Toronto at the end of three. Milwaukee saw their 3-point percentage dip a little, and it impacted them enough to see their lead vanish. They’d also hurt in the rebounding department. They’d trail the Raptors by a score of 92-88 going into the final quarter of regulation.
That hot shooting? It’d continue for the Raptors in the fourth quarter, with their largest lead coming from Gary Trent Jr. at the 7:06 mark, which put Toronto up by 14 points. From that point on, the Bucks’ offense was simply struggling too much for them to find any path back into this game. They’d scratch and claw to make it single digits in the waning moments, but ultimately, were unable to get over the hump. The Raptors would leave with a 117-111 victory.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with a 25 point outing on 9-of-16 shooting. Pascal Siakam would lead all scorers with 33 on the evening.
What Did We Learn?
We learned that Boogie could make an impact.
Now, I’m not even going to kid with this. I began typing this last night at Fiserv Forum before it was announced that DeMarcus Cousins will be waived:
The Milwaukee Bucks plan to waive center DeMarcus Cousins, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Bucks are opting for roster flexibility ahead of league-wide contract guarantee date Friday. There’s expected to be interest in Cousins as a free agent.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 6, 2022
Now, we don’t know the full details, so there’s a chance that more may be out in the morning once this is published. But as for an initial reaction, this seems a bit puzzling. Cousins has been putting together a strong string of games as of late. His 15 points provided a massive boost for the Bucks early on in this one vs. Toronto. It’ll be interesting to see the Bucks bring in to replace him and yeah, it’s a business, but man...tough for Boogie.
It was a tale of two halves for the Bucks.
Talk about night and day. In the first half, Milwaukee exploded for 77 points. That would tie a season-high, and keep in mind — they were without Giannis. However, in the second half, they’d tally just 34 points. Much of that wasn’t scored until the final few minutes, with them sitting at 19 points scored in the half for a period of time. Obviously, the offense isn’t the same without Giannis out on the floor, but things should be running smoother than that. In his postgame availability, Darvin Ham mentioned how he would’ve liked to see more execution and attributed Toronto’s increased pressure as reasoning towards the faltering offense in the second half. It’ll be interesting to see how the consistency evolves from an offensive standpoint with Darvin Ham at the helm moving forward.
Jordan Nwora may have too many field goals last night.
When it was announced that Giannis Antetokounmpo would miss this game due to a non-COVID illness, many people gravitated towards the idea of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday getting a bulk of the offensive share. That proved to be the case, as Middleton put up 16 shots and Holiday 15. However, Jordan Nwora also put up 15 shot attempts. Now, I know Nwora is a talented scorer, but when Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are also on the floor, it may be best to divert some of those shot attempts their way.
Sandro Mamukelashvili had a solid outing.
Early on, it was clear that Mamukelashvili was in a groove. He’d tally a few nice shots, including a 3-pointer from the baseline. He’d do a job of absorbing contact in the paint, totaling six free throws on the evening and converting on five of them. Given the news that the Bucks plan to waive DeMarcus Cousins, it appears that Sandro’s minutes will receive an uptick. He’s shown some promise this year and will surely get an opportunity to show his worth with the Bucks being down a big for the near future.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- The Bucks were hurting on the glass last night. When it was all said and done, Milwaukee would hold a 73.5% DRB percentage. That’ll definitely be something they want to improve on moving forward.
- It was a bit of an uncharacteristic night for Jrue Holiday, as he tallied eight turnovers on the evening. That’s something that will likely shake out being an anomaly, as you can anticipate him slicing that number down moving forward.
- One positive was the Bucks’ ability to get back in this one down the stretch. After that Gary Trent 3-pointer at the seven minute mark, they could’ve easily gone belly-up. Instead, they fought their way back into the game and made it a contest down the stretch.
- Wes Matthews looked good at times last night, but wasn’t able to play as much as Darvin Ham would’ve preferred. He ended up getting in foul trouble. Look for him to have a solid outing vs. Brooklyn on Friday.
- Fred VanVleet continues to give Bucks fans flashbacks to the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals with that high-arching shot of his. He’d total 19 points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep.