);
Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: What are the keys to the Toronto Raptors winning Game 2 against the Milwaukee Bucks?

The Toronto Raptors will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight.

In addition to four things to watch - including defensive rebounding, which was an issue once again for Toronto - here are some last-minute keys for the Raptors heading into Game 2...

Get Pascal Siakam going

Siakam got off to an aggressive start in Game 1. He scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half, doing so on 5-for-12 shooting from the field.

It was an encouraging sign after he struggled in Games 6 and 7 of the previous round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

One of the things the Raptors did to get Siakam going in Game 1 was put him in pick-and-rolls, with him being the ball handler and one of the guards - usually Kyle Lowry or Kawhi Leonard - being the screener.

Even though the Bucks rarely switched those actions, it helped create room for him to attack the basket early in the shot clock, like this:

The Raptors didn't do that as often in the second half, largely because Siakam took a backseat on offence with Lowry finding a rhythm. Not only did it result in his usage rate dropping from 24.0 percent to 18.5 percent, five of his eight shot attempts were 3-pointers.

Siakam made only one of those attempts - a deep pull-up to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter.

As good as Lowry was in Game 1, the Raptors will likely need Siakam to be at his best to have a chance in this series. Putting the ball in his hands and having him run more pick-and-rolls like he did in the first half of Game 1 might be one of the ways they can get him going again.

Limit Eric Bledsoe in transition

Bledsoe had only nine points in Game 1, but he made an impact in the third quarter to get the Bucks back in the game.

After a scoreless first half, Bledsoe opened the period with three quick baskets to cut Toronto's lead to 63-62. Two of those baskets came in transition, with the third coming in semi-transition following a pair of free throws from Lowry.

The Raptors otherwise did a decent job on Bledsoe in Game 1. With him not being a reliable shooter - he made 32.9 percent of his 3-point attempts in the regular season - they dared him to beat them from outside, which allowed them to help off and throw another body at Giannis Antetokounmpo whenever he drove to the basket.

The Raptors can't, however, afford to give Bledsoe opportunities to attack off of misses and turnovers. According to NBA.com, Bledsoe generated 29.2 percent of his offense in transition during the regular season. That was the seventh-highest rate in the league among players who appeared in at least 20 games.

Take something away from The Greek Freak

Toronto's game plan against Antetokounmpo in Game 1 was pretty clear - do everything possible to prevent him scoring in the paint, where he led the league in scoring this season.

This is perhaps the most extreme example from Game 1, with Antetokounmpo drawing not one, not two, not three, but four (!) Raptors in the paint on one of his drives:

That wasn't an isolated incident either. Here's another one from later in the game, this time with three Raptors swarming him:

The game plan worked in some ways - Antetokounmpo scored 24 points on 7-for-16 shooting from the field - but he had six assists and 18 potential assists.

For perspective, Russell Westbrook led the league this season with 20.8 potential assists per game. LeBron James averaged the second-most with 16.0.

Heading into Game 2, it'll be interesting to see if the Raptors defend Antetokounmpo the same way and live with others beating them, especially after Brook Lopez torched them with a playoff career-high 29 points in Game 1. The other option is to focus on everyone else and let Antetokounmpo get his numbers, even if that means he goes for 40-plus points.

Get regular season Serge Ibaka

Ibaka averaged 22.3 points per game against the Bucks in the regular season. The only team he had a higher scoring average against was the Lakers (34.0), but he played in only one game against Los Angeles compared to four against Milwaukee.

That version Ibaka didn't come to play in Game 1, though, as he scored four points (2-6 FG) and was a -17 in 17 minutes of play.

As TSN's Josh Lewenberg noted on Thursday, the Raptors are now 6-0 in these playoffs when Ibaka scores in double figures and 2-5 when he doesn't.

"Personally, I think I need to do a better job," Ibaka said at his media availability before Game 2. "I know every time I bring my energy my teammates feed off that. I didn't bring that last night.

"I'm going to do better next game."

Ibaka's production is particularly important if the Raptors are going to continue to get nothing out of the rest of their second unit. Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet were the only other bench players to play in Game 1 and they combined for eight points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field.

Get a bounce-back game from Danny Green

Ibaka, Powell and VanVleet weren't the only Raptor to struggle in Game 1. Green finished the game with six points on 1-for-5 shooting from the field and 1-for-4 from the 3-point line.

Green also had a costly turnover down the stretch of the fourth quarter that the Bucks capitalized on to regain the lead.

Green is coming off the best shooting season of his career in which he made 45.5 percent of his 3-point attempts. That number is way down to 35.8 percent in these playoffs.

Additionally, Green's 3-point attempts have taken a hit, from 7.1 per 36 minutes in the regular season to 5.9 in the playoffs.

Following Toronto's Game 1 loss, Lowry spoke about the need to get Green more looks.

"We have one of the best shooters in the NBA and we've gotta find ways to get him open," Lowry said.

If Green and Ibaka can give the Raptors more of a scoring punch, it would help take some of the pressure off of Leonard, who saw his fare share of double teams in Game 1.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

popovich-walker-ftr.jpg
What's next for USA Basketball?
Kyle Irving
#Gasol
Gasol wins historic back-to-back championships
Micah Adams
#Rubio
Rubio, Gasol headline World Cup All-Star Five
Benyam Kidane
#FIBA #Spain
Gasol, Spain win World Cup gold
Gilbert McGregor
#France
France claim World Cup bronze medal
Benyam Kidane
east-xfactors-ftr.jpg
Biggest X-factors in the East
Kyle Irving
More News