Milwaukee Bucks Fall Short In Game 6 In Spite Of Heroic Effort

Apr 27, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket as kToronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) defends during the third quarter in game six of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2017; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket as kToronto Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll (5) defends during the third quarter in game six of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Even after overcoming a sluggish start with a big performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo and an impressive team comeback, the Milwaukee Bucks ultimately succumbed to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6.

The Milwaukee Bucks needed a special performance if they were to overcome the Toronto Raptors in Game 6, and in spite of trailing by as much as 25 points in the third quarter, they almost found just the kind of comeback for the ages they needed.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was consistently excellent throughout the game, logging an incredible 46 minutes in total, while his teammates eventually showed up with a monumental effort to make a game of it down the stretch.

Sporting a fresh new hair cut, Antetokounmpo came out of the blocks eager to get the Bucks firing. As Marques Johnson described it on the Fox Sports Wisconsin broadcast:

"“That’s early Giannis. That’s fresh off the boat from Greece Giannis. That’s selling trinkets at 3 a.m. in the streets Giannis.”"

As the Greek racked up a slew of early points taking DeMarre Carroll to the rim for a finger-roll to open the scoring, and then driving into the chest of Serge Ibaka for an and-one, there was only one thing that could slow him down. Of course, I’m talking about the MVP chant that led to his sole first half miss at the charity stripe.

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Giannis’ fast start forced a quick timeout for Toronto with the Raptors trailing 8-2, but even that wasn’t enough to stop Milwaukee’s initial groove. The Bucks returned from the timeout with Thon Maker driving hard at Ibaka to force the Congolese big man into a second personal foul which sent him to the bench early.

Even with 12 points in just four minutes of action from Antetokounmpo, the Raptors found a way to stabilize and pull their way into the game before any real Milwaukee lead could open up.

Norman Powell continued to impact the series for Toronto as he drained an open three to tie the game up at 14, and move to 9-10 from deep up until that point of the series. While Ibaka’s absence may have seemed like a positive opportunity for the Bucks, Jonas Valanciunas stepped up with some of his best minutes of the series so far.

Valanciunas had four points and four rebounds as he provided some unexpected first quarter relief minutes, and even more importantly for Toronto, he helped to force Greg Monroe into two quick turnovers which were followed up by two equally speedy fouls. With Monroe forced to take a seat, John Henson made a surprise return to the rotation for his first meaningful minutes of the series.

As the first period wrapped up, the Raptors held a 28-24 lead, in spite of strong starts from Antetokounmpo (14 points) and Maker (three blocks).

The second quarter certainly didn’t make things any better for the Bucks in this must-win game, as a wide-open corner triple from Patrick Patterson opened the scoring and proved to be the first real instance of Toronto airing their lead out.

While Antetokounmpo continued to work with a nice pump-fake into a mid-range jumper, Matthew Dellavedova offered the Bucks some meaningful offense as they matched up with Toronto’s three guard lineup. Delly first pump-faked his way to the free throw line with the shot clock winding down, before following up with made floaters on back-to-back possessions.

Dellavedova’s good play was only helping the Bucks to keep pace, though, as the Bucks struggled to stop Toronto. Even with flashes of improvement from Khris Middleton and continued brilliance from Antetokounmpo, the Raptors slowly built on their lead.

Thon Maker returned and quickly drew a charge, but he would be withdrawn only a minute later as Kidd moved to a lineup with Giannis at center. The Bucks outscored the Raptors by four points with Maker on the floor in the first half, but unfortunately the rookie only played a total of nine minutes in the half overall.

A DeRozan dunk through a tough Giannis contest put an exclamation mark on the end of the first half, and Toronto entered the break with a 51-38 lead.

Milwaukee started the second half with strong defensive effort, but unable to get anything to fall offensively, they failed to make inroads. Eventually when the first score of the half fell, it was a carbon copy of Antetokounmpo’s finish over DeMarre Carroll that opened the game.

If the Bucks felt like this was symbolic of a chance to start over, the Kyle Lowry three from Chippewa Falls that followed it up shook them back to reality immediately.

The threes continued to pour in as the Raptors heated up, and when Powell (make that 10-11 for the series) and Carroll followed Lowry’s in, the lead stretched to a game-high of 25 points. To the credit of the Bucks and the fans in the BMO Harris Bradley Center, they continued to believe.

With the Bucks starting to edge their way below 20, a strong defensive stand forced a 24-second violation and sparked the fans and in turn the team to life. In immediate response to the increased crowd noise, Middleton knocked down an energizing three. With the Bucks defense ramping up, it wouldn’t end there either.

The third quarter finished with the Bucks having cut the lead back to 74-61, but their run didn’t end there, bridging the transition between quarters with a 20-3 run. With belief growing within Milwaukee’s players and fans, a Jason Kidd technical for complaining about a charge called on Middleton couldn’t even knock the Bucks off their rhythm.

A layup from Jason Terry was quickly followed up by two free throws from Monroe, meaning that Antetokounmpo had the chance to cut the deficit to just six with two free throws of his own. Having sat for just over 90 seconds up until that point, a clearly exhausted Antetokounmpo could only manage to miss both.

With a timeout giving Milwaukee’s star a chance for respite, he returned to make a big block and continue Milwaukee’s momentum. On the next three possessions the Bucks shut Toronto down and followed back by getting to the line and splitting free throws, once from Dellavedova, twice from Antetokounmpo.

With the lead back to seven, the Bucks struggled to get the next score, but continued to outwork the Raptors for rebounds. Three consecutive offensive rebounds, including two from Terry, eventually led to a Middleton three-pointer that took the roof off the Bradley Center. Fouled by DeRozan, Middleton went to the line with a chance to make it a four-point play and tie the game, but missed the freebie.

Still, the Bucks wouldn’t have to wait long to take the lead as Terry continued his stellar fourth quarter effort with a monumental three of his own. With all momentum now trending in Milwaukee’s direction following a 32-9 run, the Raptors showed tremendous resilience to bounce back with a 9-0 run of their own to regain control.

With the Raptors looking set to cruise to victory, Middleton was fouled on a three-point attempt to breathe life back into the Bucks’ comeback. Unfortunately, Middleton missed the second of his three attempts, making the Bucks only 7-15 from the line in the quarter.

With the lead cut back to five, the Bucks applied heavy defensive pressure and Terry forced a turnover on DeRozan with only 24.9 remaining. Terry’s heroics weren’t done there, as having inbounded on the other end, he was the recipient of a Middleton pass that set up a clutch triple that left the lead at only two.

DeMar DeRozan was quickly fouled in response and splitting his free throws, left the door open for Milwaukee again. The Bucks responded with two points from Giannis, although having used more clock than they would have preferred, the odds were then stacked against them.

DeRozan drained both free throws, and with only 3.8 seconds remaining and no timeouts left, a Tony Snell turnover on the inbounds sealed the deal.

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The game ended with a three-point (92-89) loss, as Snell and Terry stood inconsolable on the side of the court. Milwaukee’s run ends for this year, but with a performance that promises of much greater seasons yet to come.