The Bucks second back to back loss of the season could not have come at a worse time. With the Raptors firing on nearly all cylinders, they kept home court and managed to even the series at 2 a piece.
Milwaukee Bucks (2-2) v Toronto Raptors (2-2): 122 to 103
The Raptors are finally locked in, well mostly.
They managed to have a 13 point lead by the end of the third and just kept on building on their hot first half start.
Kyle Lowry has overcome his choking woes of previous playoffs to have a phenomenal series so far, leading all Raptors in scoring this game and perfect from the stripe (6-11 from the field for 25 points with 6 assists. Marc Gasol played well on both ends, forcing Brooke Lopez to only 5 shots and having 17 points and 7 assists (with two blocks and a steal) night. Kawhi was quiet on offence but he was allowed to sit back and relax on that end as he played through a hurt leg to put the pressure on Giannis on the other end.
The difference in this game was the bench. The Raptors big three of Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet scored 48 combined opposed to 20 by the Bucks.
VanVleet finally found his stroke (5-6 from the fiend and perfect from three), Norman Powell continued his streak of phenomenal games and Serge had a solid double-double. Powell may not be a factor in away games but at home he is confident, he can create his own shots off the dribble and also catch a shoot and when they fall, the Raptors are just killing it.
The Bench was all plus +24 at a minimum.
The prolific bench due of George Hill and Malcom Brogdon finally had a bad game. George Hill was held to two shots and four points and Brogdon hit 2-11 for four points. This was the difference in this game.
For the Bucks, Giannis had a pretty decent night (25 points and 10 rebounds to go with 5 assists) but was still quite limited by Kawhi. Middleton was nearly perfect with 11-15 from the field with 30 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. But Bledsoe was awful again and only played 20 minutes. At times it was just better to go with Brogdon and Hill over what was their second-best player in Bledsoe.
The Bucks need more support from the three point range from Mirotic, with the team struggling at 31% from three.
As a team that doesn’t play much mid-range game, they will be salivating the chance to return to a friendly hoop for next game and see more of their three’s dropping.
With this series all even, it makes me excited for Game 5 in Milwaukee.
Next Game @ Bucks: Friday (24/5) 10:30am.