Milwaukee Bucks: Thon Maker’s Defense Set The Tone In Game 1

Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks
Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Milwaukee Bucks stole homecourt advantage away from the Toronto Raptors in Game 1, Thon Maker‘s defense proved to be key.

The shockwaves that reverberated around the NBA community when the Milwaukee Bucks selected Thon Maker with the 10th overall pick in last summer’s draft have certainly dissipated now.

Viewed by most to be a prospect far too raw to offer any tangible contributions in the NBA for at least a couple of seasons, Maker went from strength to strength as his role increased in what was a surprisingly active rookie year.

Still, even having been particularly impressive in Milwaukee’s final few games of the season, nobody could have expected the type of performance the 20-year-old native of South Sudan produced in his playoff debut on Saturday.

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Least of all the Toronto Raptors.

Returning to Ontario, where he plied his trade in high school at Orangeville Prep’s Athlete Institute only 12 months earlier, Maker played a total of 15 minutes in Game 1 at the Air Canada Centre. In that time, Maker managed to show his usual energy and shooting touch on offense, but left a much more indelible mark on the game’s direction defensively.

Although Maker can occasionally struggle in guarding the pick-and-roll, and can suffer from lapses of discipline more than concentration, he has good defensive instincts and the physical tools to assert himself.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greg Monroe and Malcolm Brogdon were the stars of Milwaukee’s surprise success in the series opener, but it was Maker who made much of that possible by establishing a presence on defense.

Let’s take a closer look at the many ways in which Maker managed to influence the game defensively, in spite of relatively limited minutes.