Bucks' backcourt catches fire, torches Raptors to even season series

Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors
Milwaukee Bucks v Toronto Raptors / Cole Burston/GettyImages

After getting blown off the floor against the Toronto Raptors earlier this season, the Milwaukee Bucks were likely more than motivated to bounce back in their second crack at them.

They'd have to do it shorthanded, as Giannis Antetokounmpo was scratched with a calf issue. Without the Greek Freak, Coach Griffin would be forced to tweak his rotations significantly. Even with Giannis out, the Bucks still have a cache of talent on this roster, meaning other players would be tasked with stepping up in his absence.

Notes from Bucks' win over Raptors

With Antetokounmpo out, all eyes were on Lillard to take the reins. Indeed, the guard did just that, as he was incredibly aggressive with the ball in his hands all night. He had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 37 points while being extremely efficient, shooting 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from three, and 93.8 percent (15-of-16) from the charity stripe.

It was great to see Lillard find his groove as a scorer, which he's struggled to do lately, but he did more than just put points on the board. He made sure to get his teammates involved in the action, having tallied 13 assists in his first double-double of the season. His impact wasn't cut there, as he also had four rebounds and two steals in an incredible effort.

Alongside Lillard was Malik Beasley, who was red-hot himself. The guard clocked in his best effort of the young season with 30 points on 78.6 percent shooting, which included going 8-of-11 from three. He's been inconsistent at times this season, but when he gets going, he gets hot, and he was red-hot in this one. His impact was felt whenever he touched the court, having finished as a +34.

Starting alongside this backcourt was Andre Jackson Jr. in the place of Antetokounmpo, which came as a surprise to many. Still, it shows the belief Griffin has in his young player. Jackson finished with two offensive rebounds and an assist in his 16 and a half minutes, so he didn't overflow the stat sheet, but his energy was on full display defensively as he pestered his opponents constantly.

With the Bucks lacking size in Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence, Bobby Portis took it upon himself to step up. Offensively, he made an array of tough shots, which helped him finish with 18 points on a very efficient 7-of-11 shooting. With seven rebounds and two blocked shots on top of that, it was unquestionably yet another strong performance from the Bucks' reserve big man.

Another reserve who had a solid line was Cameron Payne, who has genuinely helped steady the bench in the early going this season. The backup floor general shot 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-4 from deep en route to a 13-point effort. When the Raptors started applying pressure and made a run in the fourth, Payne sunk a pair of triples to help Milwaukee sustain their lead.

Lastly, Brook Lopez had himself quite a game, stuffing the stat sheet with 10 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks, four assists, and a steal.

It must be noted that MarJon Beauchamp exited the matchup early after brutally turning his ankle. He hobbled off the court, and it was deemed an ankle sprain. We will now wait to hear about the severity.

On the other side of the ball, the Raptors had five players finish in double-figures, including a 29-point effort from Scottie Barnes. Still, they had no answer to Milwaukee's backcourt all night, which spelled doom for them in the end.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Bucks emerged victorious with a 128-112 victory. It was a nice win without Antetokounmpo, allowing him to rest up that calf. Seeing Lillard and Beasley get going was tremendous, as was watching the reserves provide a huge lift. This could be an outing that gives this team some momentum moving forward.

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