Someday I will find a proper way to summarize what occurred Wednesday night between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors, but it needs far more than one opening sentence to understand the wild ride that was this 104-101 OT win.
It is hard to put into words how truly awful the first quarter was between these two teams was. It was yakkity sax personified on the basketball court. The Bucks led 13-12. In comparison, the second quarter felt like an epic fireworks display, as Milwaukee took a 39-38 lead into half despite continued sloppy play and missed shots on both sides. A ho-hum third quarter ensued, full of much of the same honestly between turnovers and some slop, but Milwaukee led 63-59. The fourth quarter finally opened some floodgates for Milwaukee as they secured a 90-69 lead. From there, the Raptors started pressuring the Bucks, forcing errors and hitting shots of their own as they tried to eke their way back into the game. And eke they did, by hook, crook, poor officiating, annoying pressure, essentially channeling every ounce of annoying Toronto energy still plaguing our Bucks bones until Gary Trent Jr. tied the game at 97 on a three to send it into OT.
A typically hard-to-score OT period only came to an end when Grayson Allen drilled a corner three off a ridiculous pass from Giannis to secure the win...and lower our collective blood pressures.
Giannis with the dime & Grayson with the finish. pic.twitter.com/fW4TTMlxm2— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 5, 2023
We might’ve witnessed one of the worst offensive quarters inn NBA history. Tonight’s first period was the wettest of farts for both teams. 24 consecutive missed shots, the Raptors missing their first fifteen, seven turnovers for the Bucks. When all was said and done, the Bucks were up merely 13-12. Milwaukee shot 5-24, Toronto hit 2-21. It wasn’t just horrific shotmaking, it was as ugly as the NBA really can get. A quarter I’ll never unsee, but would love to forget. Salute.
OG Anunoby, deservedly billed as one of the NBA’s better defenders, looked small against Giannis. Yes, Giannis had a lot of turnovers, but much of that came off some errant passes and due to the frequent help shaded his way any time he entered the interior. But it was frankly a little jarring to see how easily at times Antetokounmpo could just barrel through Anunoby en route to the bucket. And when he wasn’t weaving through Toronto traffic cones, he did a stellar job of reading pressure (particularly when it came on the perimeter) and finding cutters in the lane. He also went It was far from perfect with 10 turnovers, but he took over when Milwaukee needed it without Jrue or Khris and posted a 30-21-10 triple-double. And all on the second night of a back-to-back.
Giannis records his 31st career triple-double tonight in Toronto.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 5, 2023
30 PTS | 21 REB | 10 AST pic.twitter.com/LAIXDNMR71
The role players came ready. That has been a far cry from always true, and as recently as last night the team had to rely upon Bobby, Giannis and Brook for the vast majority of their scoring output. Pat Connaughton was ready to fire, nailing 15 points on 12 shots. Grayson Allen found his groove again with 16 points, with solid passing leading to five assists and, most importantly on a night the Bucks had 25 of them, only one turnover. MarJon Beauchamp was a minus in the plus/minus column, but continued to show the signs of offensive growth you’d want to see. On a night when little was easy, they needed every bucket they could get.
Pat was finding his stride.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 5, 2023
15 PTS | 6 REB | 1 AST pic.twitter.com/zdWmYWWK6c
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Toronto missed 15 consecutive shots to start this game. Combined, the teams missed 26 consecutive shots in the first period. That’s gotta be approaching some kinda NBA record.
- Brook Lopez got in early foul trouble for his fourth consecutive game. That, combined with injuries and Toronto’s wonky smaller lineups, led to a Carter-Beauchamp-Nwora-Mamu-Portis lineup in the first period.
- Beauchamp has pump fakes now! After his quick trigger from deep throughout his playing time this year, he used a fake-and-drive to start the second quarter with this dunk past Precious Achiuwa. I continue to be utterly surprised by his offensive development this season.
- I’m not sure what it’s going to take for the Bucks to somehow clean up their turnover issues, but they gotta figure something out. Their 14 first half turnovers were primarily a parade of absent-minded or off-target passes along with some lackadaisical performances. For a team whose offense isn’t humming, they can’t afford to keep losing on that margin.
- Grayson Allen has looked a bit off-kilter in the last two weeks, not just with his shot but generally hesitant to be aggressive shooting at the rim or passing off his drives. That’s why it was nice to see a few sequences tonight when he was driving or cutting and dishing solid reads through the defense to his teammates. The second quarter in particular he dropped a gorgeous bounce pass through defenders into a teammate in the lane. His drive for an and-one past Scottie Barnes in the third was another promising sign on a night Milwaukee needed him to come through.
- Jordan Nwora finally came out of Bud’s doghouse in this one, I suppose a sign of just how depleted this team was that he mustered 14 minutes against this squad. Then again, they did generally need someone of his body type vs. Toronto. Either way, I don’t anticipate we’ll be seeing him regularly anytime soon after this one.
- Beauchamp made a solid read in the fourth after an offensive rebound, using his body to get into the teeth of Toronto’s D at the rim before flicking a pass above defenders to Giannis awaiting in the middle of the paint for a foul shot. The fact he one-upped it with a baseline wraparound dish to Brook with his off-hand? That was a genuine WOW pass given where he was at the start of the year.
- It seems like a decent indictment of Carter at the moment that even as Milwaukee struggled to bring the ball up late against Toronto pressure, Bud still opted to run with Pat and Grayson as the backcourt. Credit to him for coming back in on the final defensive possession of OT.
- With the Raptors coming into this game as -5.5 point favorites, as we discussed in our Brew Hoop chat...the fix was clearly in here. And here’s a helpful hint given this “non-call” happened literally RIGHT IN FRONT OF A REF!