Editor’s note: This recap was written by Behind the Buck Pass contributor Henry Russo. Henry is a senior at Marquette University and can be found on Twitter @HankRusso.
The Milwaukee Bucks opened up their home season with a loss to the Toronto Raptors 97-90 Saturday night. Playing without starting point guard Brandon Knight, who sat out with hamstring injury, the Bucks (1-2) once again fell behind early and made a second half comeback, but unlike Friday they could not get over the hump.
After making the game close in the fourth, the Bucks missed multiple shots at the rim and struggled from the free throw line (going 1-of-6 at one point). Khris Middleton in particular struggled during this stretch and eventually was replaced by Caron Butler to finish the game. DeMar Derozan played a key role for the Raptors, hitting multiple contested jumpers in the final period which put the game out of reach.
The Bucks now have a few days off before the Cleveland Cavaliers visit Milwaukee on Wednesday. In that time, hopefully Larry Drew and staff can figure out the reason behind his team’s slow starts. Though the slow starts are concerning, there were also three other big takeaways from last night’s game:
Larry Sanders Struggles…Again
For the third game in a row, Larry Sanders was not on the floor for much of the second half, including the fourth quarter comeback. Though the season just started, Sanders recently signed an extension and is the closest thing the Bucks have to a star player. So far, Sanders has shown virtually no improvement on the offensive end and has done little rebounding, which the team desperately needs. Actually, so far it seems like Sanders has regressed. Three games into the season means it is hardly time to panic, but the bottom line is Sanders is off to a very discouraging start.
Greek Freak Alert
The most interesting Milwaukee Buck made his regular season home debut off of the bench in the second quarter. Antetokoumpo received huge ovations throughout the game from the fairly full BMO Harris Bradley Center fans. In the second half he also had a smooth finish at the rim, easily providing the most energy of the night to a somewhat lethargic arena. He also received extensive playing time in the fourth quarter as part of the group who led the Bucks within striking distance. It will be interesting to see how often Giannis will be on the floor during close games as the season progresses.
The Bucks gave up a ton of offensive boards throughout the preseason and it’s carried over into the regular season. Last night, the Raptors had 18 offensive rebounds! This problem needs to be fixed immediately for the team to have any chance of challenging for a late playoff seed.