Milwaukee Bucks Dismantle Toronto Raptors in Game 3, Lead 2-1

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

The BMO Harris Bradley Center was rocking on Thursday night as the Milwaukee Bucks dominated the Toronto Raptors, opening up a 2-1 series lead.

This one was fun. After Khris Middleton got things going with the first five points of the game, the Milwaukee Bucks never looked back. Milwaukee never trailed during all 48 minutes en route to this massive victory in Game 3, in front of a raucous Bradley Center crowd.

After losing their last playoff home game 120-66 to the Chicago Bulls in 2015, the Bucks looked to avenge that defeat. Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee with 20 points on 8-15 shooting while Giannis Antetokounmpo also added his fair share to the stat sheet with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks. Off the bench, Greg Monroe (16 points, seven rebounds) and Matthew Dellavedova (10 points, 2-2 from three) each had good games of their own.

The Raptors, on the other hand, struggled to get things going all night long, shooting just 33.8 percent from the field on the day, and that was reflected in their star play. Kyle Lowry (13 points, 4-10 shooting) and DeMar DeRozan (8 points, 0-8 shooting) just couldn’t hit their shots from the field, even if they did find their way to the free throw a fair amount (combined 11-12 from the line).

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In this kind of dominant performance, it really was the Bucks on a mission from the moment the ball was tipped.

Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo both got into double figures for points in the first quarter and with just those two combined, they outscored the Raptors 21-12. Unlike the first two games in the series, Michael Beasley was the first forward off the bench instead of Mirza Teletovic. Beas answered the call quickly, dropping home two early threes. He ended the night with 13 points in 20 minutes.

The second quarter was no different, as the Bucks just continued to pile onto their lead. The Raptors once again struggled to make shots, as their first half field goal percentage was just 22.6 percent (7-31). On the flip side, the Bucks shot over 55 percent from the field in the first half, thanks to a great all-around team effort. Although the Bucks dropping 57 in the first half was obviously good, their defense was the story of the first 24 minutes.

Any time the Bucks play with that much intensity on the defensive end and hold a good offensive team to 30 points in a half, things are looking up.

In the second half, the Bucks looked to maintain their high level of play. Although they did not dominate the third quarter as much as the first and second, they won the quarter by a score of 21-16. At this point, Milwaukee was just having fun and the crowd continued to be electric. And when Giannis blocked a shot with his elbow, the Greek Freak broke all of Hades loose.

And although the Bucks held a huge lead entering the fourth quarter, they avoided going too far into “prevent mode” and kept the lead up. With the bench playing a fair amount of the quarter, the Bucks lost the final quarter 31-26, but still ended up with a 27-point victory.

Without a doubt, this game was all about defense for the Bucks. Behind outstanding play from every member of the squad and a very good coaching outing by Jason Kidd, it was clear that the Bucks played to their potential on the defensive end. Not only did they hold the Raptors to just 77 points, but they also forced them into 33.8 percent shooting and 15 turnovers.

All in all, this was one of the best team performances that the Bucks have produced all season long and it is because of this that the momentum of this series is now firmly on their side. Along with holding a 2-1 lead in the series, two of the potentially four remaining games in this series come in Milwaukee. As long as the Bucks hold serve at home, then they will “Win in 6.”

Next: Opposition Intel: Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors Round One Catch-Up With Brian Boake

Game 4 of the series will be played on Saturday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center at 2pm, Central time. Settle in, folks, it should be a good one.