Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors – December 11

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Milwaukee Bucks leaky on D early, refuse to execute late as Toronto Raptors walk away with home win.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Jabari ParkerGiannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe

Toronto Raptors: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Luis Scola, Bismack Biyombo


After falling to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks made yet another trip across the northern border to visit the Toronto Raptors. Holding the third seed about a quarter of the way through the season, the Raptors sport one of the league’s most effective defensive-offensive 1-2 punches in the entire league, and keeping scoring threats like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry locked down would be critical heading in.

Much like Wednesday, the Bucks got going right out the gate attacking the rim as the centerpiece of their offensive strategy. This benefited Giannis Antetokounmpo who brought immediate returns thanks to a series of really beautiful moves in the paint to blow by his man like the one below:

Oddly, though, head coach Jason Kidd swapped him out for Michael Carter-Williams just six minutes into the game. Khris Middleton kept things going, however, hitting a three pointer and a mid-range two to maintain distance on the Raptors.

Things on the defensive end didn’t look too hot, especially inside where plenty of rotation holes emerged in many Toronto offensive sets. DeMar DeRozan took advantage to get heated up in a hurry, ending the quarter with 10 points on 4-6 shooting and a rebound.

A few Terrence Ross threes pushed the Raptors up 24-19 at the end of the first, though Toronto only taking three triples and making one boded well for a Bucks defense prone to giving it up from a distance.

With the bench unit coming on to start the second quarter, Rashad Vaughn and John Henson got to see their first serious burn of the evening. Neither had much of an impact on either end, though Johnny O’Bryant did everything he could to miss shots at the rim for a sequence or two to get him to 0-5 on the quarter.

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Milwaukee started to run a little cold and fall behind on the scoreboard thanks to a Raptors defensive scheme loading the paint with four defenders whenever a Buck started to close in to the hoop. Ineffective perimeter shooting did little to help, and the guard corps put together a fascinating 5-17 shooting performance by the half while producing just six assists.

If there was one big takeaway from a second quarter in which the Bucks literally scored 14 points, it was that the team looked outmatched on both ends of the floor. Sloppy offense multiple times down the court resulted in unforced turnovers; mediocre D gave the Raptors plenty enough space to keep the Bucks scrambling and out of position.

Some hot shooting down the stretch until the break allowed Toronto to grow their lead to 16 points, up 49-33. Disjointed offense was the name of the game up to this point for Milwaukee, and fixing it at halftime would be the only chance to keep hope alive.

A 28.6 percent success rate from the floor did not seem to reinforce those hopes much.

Right out of the break, it was obvious that Milwaukee’s intensity was turned up a few notches allowing for a quick cutting into Toronto’s lead.  Unfortunately, Toronto’s guards decided to get back and halt any chance at a substantial comeback.

The most positive development on the night had to have been Parker’s taking over of the third on offense, even if he wasn’t hitting every shot. Whether it was by design or otherwise, he found himself with plenty of space often to get a few jumpers up. An increase in confidence is a great trend.

Milwaukee chipped away further at the lead piece by piece. Middleton and Greg Monroe took advantage of positioning often to convert on plenty of opportunities. Team defense showed through, with the Raptors only managing 21 points in the quarter to get the deficit down to a manageable 10 points, 70-60.

A Middleton iso-heavy offensive set was the go-to strategy with Khris taking plenty of advantage hitting shots from virtually everywhere on the floor. His becoming a threat opened everyone else up nicely, and Khris did his best to playmake and get the offense into some sort of rhythm.

The Mayo, MCW, Middleton, Giannis, and Henson lineup would be called upon to take the Raptors to task, and a string of strong defensive stands whittled things to four points.

As things began to wind down, the game devolved into a one-on-one matchup with Middleton and DeRozan trading shots with both getting to 25 points on similar efficiency. Oh, and Giannis had a beaut of an alley-oop:

Frenetic defense with about 2:00 on the clock resulted in a transition pull-up three from OJ Mayo to get the score to 82-86. An exciting end looked in store for all. Or did it?

Long story short, a DeRozan jumper, Giannis passing up on a wide open three for a contested fadeaway two, and a Kyle Lowry lay-in through Antetokounmpo sealed things for a let down finish, 83-90.

On the whole, middling defense in the first half and a refusal to execute properly in the second hamstrung the Bucks in a big way. While the starting unit was able to keep some semblance of pace, the Raptors’s bench outscored Milwaukee 28-8 which helped prop up the home team throughout.

90. 81. 83. 89. Final

A disappointing road loss, to be sure. Things pick right back up for Milwaukee, though, as they host the All-NBA-History best Golden State Warriors at home Saturday evening.