Bucks vs Raptors : If the Bucks can slow down Kawhi Leonard again and bottle up Siakam, they should have a good shot of winning this one. Nikola Mirotic will also stay in the starting lineup for Milwaukee. On the injury front, D.J. Wilson is officially off the injury report now, leaving only Donte DiVincenzo and Pau Gasol on the mend.
Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe
Pardon me for repeating our “player to watch” two games in a row, but Bledsoe’s game one performance warrants it. Outside of an aggressive stint to start the third quarter, Bledsoe was content to pull up and settle for jumpers against the Raptors. That simply won’t do. The guy is finishing like a big man at the rim, he has the speed advantage over Kyle Lowry and Milwaukee’s other players can space the floor to try and open the lane for him. Eventually, he has to break out of his 3-point spell, but he needs to play his brand of steady driving basketball in this series. Keep up the D on Kyle Lowry though, those pull-up triples won’t fall all series.
After trailing for most of the game, the Bucks were still able to beat the Raptors 108-100 last Wednesday, outscoring them 32-17 in the fourth quarter. Brook Lopez was the hero of the night with 29 points and 11 rebounds on 4-for-11 from 3-point range, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals and Malcolm Brogdon finished with 15 points off the bench. NBA Playoff
It was a winnable game in a hostile environment for the Raptors but turnovers and missed 3-pointers came back to haunt them. Marc Gasol and Danny Green were non-factors from the start and rest difference was evident late.
The Raptors were gassed after playing a Game 7 against the Sixers last Sunday while the Bucks had almost a week off. It was a contest that the Raptors should have won, they led 100-98 with 3:31 left to play but went scoreless for the rest of the game.
It’s true, the Raptors missed a dynamite shot at stealing home court in Wednesday’s Game 1 loss to the Bucks. Plenty went their way in the first half: Milwaukee missed open shots, the Raptors drilled theirs, and Kawhi Leonard looked dominant.
Unfortunately, all things faded — save for Kyle Lowry, who made seven threes and was fantastic — as the Bucks won the fourth quarter 32-17 and hung on to win 108-100. Did the Raptors miss their best opportunity to win a needed road game? Maybe, maybe not. At the least, we saw a team that was able to dictate pace in the first half, make life difficult for Giannis Antetokounmpo on defence, and silence a raucous Milwaukee crowd that was befitting an Eastern Conference Final.
My knee jerk reaction was to say that the Raptors squandered the best Kyle Lowry they’re going to get in Game 1. That may not be true, though — just as Brook Lopez scoring 29 points might be an outlier, Kyle Lowry scoring 30 is never out of the realm of possibility. Those are both wells that can be tapped and untapped.
As always, the early games in a series are a progression of corrections, both for the winning and losing teams. The Raptors have more they can do, beyond just making the shots available to them. There’s more basketball to be played. We’re in for more surprises.