For the first time in 115 days, the Toronto Raptors took on the Milwaukee Bucks in a clash of Eastern Conference heavyweights. Missed the action? We've got you covered!
BOX SCORE | PLAY-BY-PLAY
Final: Bucks 108, Raptors 97
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks to lead the Bucks to a big win on the second night of a back-to-back. Although he ended up with 11 fewer points than he came in averaging, the reigning MVP dominated on both ends of the floor. He picked apart Toronto's swarming defence with crisp passing and made life miserable for the Raptors on the other end.
The Bucks improved to 50-8 and in the process became one of the fastest to 50 wins in NBA history. Only the 2016-16 Warriors, 1996-97 Bulls and 1995-96 Bulls needed fewer games to reach 50 wins on the season.
Pascal Siakam led the way for the Raptors with 22 points but did most of his damage from the outside. Five of his six makes came from beyond the 3-point line as he struggled to get much going inside against Milwaukee's stout interior D.
The Raptors tried to stay in it by relying on perimeter shots as they took 52 3s and just 39 2s. Toronto finished just 11-32 shooting inside the paint.
Next up for the Raptors is a home date on Friday with the Charlotte Hornets before hitting the road for a five-game west coast road trip. The Bucks are back in action at home Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Milwaukee hits the century club
In a game featuring top-notch defence by both teams, the Bucks still managed to top 100 points for the 82nd straight game. That's a remarkable display of consistency as it breaks a tie for the third-longest streak of its kind in NBA history.
|1978-80||San Antonio Spurs||129|
Bucks denying Raptors inside
Buckets have been tough to come by in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee's interior D has routinely stifled Toronto forays into the lane.
Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo have combined for eight blocks so far wth just under four minutes remaining.
Toronto is just 3-7 so far in the fourth quarter on shots inside of five feet. Paired along with some cold shooting from the outside and the Bucks have opened up a double-digit lead.
End of 3rd Quarter
The Bucks outscored the Raptors 34-19 in the third quarter thanks to tough defence and a balanced scoring attack. Just how deep is Milwaukee? It seized control in a quarter in which Antetokounmpo was the team's eighth-leading scorer.
The Greek Freek scored just two points but did have four assists and five rebounds while posting a team-best +12. Led by Antetokounmpo, the Bucks dominated the glass with a 13-5 advantage.
The Raptors shot just 7-20 overall in the third quarter including 4-12 from beyond the arc. They have not been able to generate any offence inside against Milwauee's suffocating and towering D as they scored just two points in the paint in the third quarter and for the game have been outscored 24-14.
Bucks turning it on
Milwaukee has ratcheted up the defence in the third quarter with points hard to come by.
Antetokounmpo in particular has largely shut down Siakam who has been reduced to mostly shooting opportunistic 3s. Although Toronto's first-time All-Star has a team-high 16 points, he has not made a shot inside of the three-point line as he's 0-3 inside the arc and on a number of occassions has decided not to attack Antetokounmpo. He's also largely been unable to generate anything in transition or on the rare times he's been able to generate a switch onto someone other than the reigning MVP.
Antetokounmpo may not be scoring but he continues to pick apart the Raptors' defence which is throwing multiple bodies and forcing the ball out of his hands. He's currently three assists shy of a triple-double.
Legends in the building
The Raptors honoured six Raptors legends at the half as part of a continued 25-year anniversary celebration. Muggsy Bogues, Antonio Davis, Kevin Willis, Charles Oakley, Jose Calderon and Alvin Williams were each on the court and honoured.
Defense ➡️ offense #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/nU5PigmBGz- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) February 26, 2020
Celebrating 25 years with some OGs. #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/lFeI2WYNO4- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 26, 2020
Halftime: Raptors 52, Bucks 50
Despite the hot shooting from 3 and standout performances by Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas, the Raptors only lead by two at the half. Seven different Raptors combined to make 11 3s, tied for the third-most they've made in the first half of any game this season.
The Bucks responded down the stretch of the second quarter, ending on a 11-1 run.
OG Anunoby put the Raptors up 51-39 on a dunk with 2:58 left in the quarter. From that point onwards the Raptors...
- Missed Fred VanVleet shot off Bucks' turnover
- Pascal Siakam turnover
- Pascal Siakam missed seven-footer
- Serge Ibaka shot blocked by Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Serge Ibaka missed two free throws
- Kyle Lowry makes 1-2 from free throw line
- Kyle Lowry 3-pointer blocked by Eric Bledsoe
- Kyle Lowry floater blocked by Brook Lopez
Meanwhile, the Bucks cleaned up their act and over the same three-minute stretch combined to shoot 4-6 including 3-5 from beyond the arc. The Bucks are only down two points despite a relatively quiet showing from their two All-Stars. Here is the shot chart for Antetokounmpo and Middleton:
Toronto catching fire
The Raptors have come out scorching hot in the second quarter, knocking down four from downtown in the first four minutes.
Chris Boucher hit another one while Matt Thomas added a trio of treys. Thomas came into the night shooting 50.8 percent from beyond the 3-point line. His three made 3s are already tied for his second-most in any game this season.
Read the scouting report pic.twitter.com/QA0WvR4b7k- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 26, 2020
Meanwhile the Bucks can't buy a bucket from deep to start the quarter as they are currently 0-4 from deep.
End of 1st Quarter
After a sluggish start, both teams heated up over the latter portion of the first quarter especially from downtown. Eight different players - including five different Raptors - have already hit at least one 3-pointer.
Here's a look at Toronto's first quarter shot chart:
Eric Bledsoe (9) and Pascal Siakam (7) are the early scoring leaders. Antetokounmpo could be on his way to a triple-double as he already has five rebounds and three assists to go along with five points.
Boucher making plays
Take a bow, Chris Boucher!
BONJOUR FAM pic.twitter.com/ViKg18wwIY- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 26, 2020
In addition to that vicious putback dunk, Boucher has also drained a three and drawn a charge on Antetokounmpo. With Marc Gasol out, Boucher is once again taking advantage of the opportunity.
It's early but this is looking like yet another example of the 'next man up' mentality that's been present all season long in Toronto.
Both teams are of to a slow start as they combined to miss 14 of their first 16 shots.
At the first timeout stoppage perhaps the biggest takeaway is the comfort level that Antetokounmpo has shown in taking turnaround mid-range jumpers. Even though he's started just 1-3, that's a shot to monitor moving forward as the ultimate counter to what's already becoming a wide offensive arsenal.
That being said... it's early, but tons of credit to Toronto's defence which continues to play him about as well as one can expect. They've largely kept him out of the paint and have been quick to rotate and recover. Aside from a couple of finds to Brook Lopez who has knocked down two 3-pointers, the Raptors are off to a strong start defensively.
The betting angle
The Raptors are one-point favourites, potentially in part due to the fact that Milwaukee is playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Raptors have been great at home where they've won nine straight overall.
The Raptors have been one of the NBA's best teams when favoured at home. So far this season they are 18-9 against the spread as a home favourite. On average, they've covered by 5.3 points which is the best in the NBA as a home favourite.
This is just the third time this season the Bucks have been underdogs.
They were 1.5-point underdogs back on October 24 against the Houston Rockets in a game they won 117-111. They were 2.0-point underdogs on February 12 against the Pacers in a game they played without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks lost that game 118-111.
Here are the starting lineups for Tuesday. The Raptors are once again without starting centre Marc Gasol who is missing his 11th straight game and has not played since January 28. Toronto is 9-1 in the last 10 games without Gasol.
Records for tonight's starting lineups:
- Milwaukee Bucks: 26-4
- Toronto Raptors: 7-1
|G||Eric Bledsoe||Kyle Lowry|
|G||Wesley Matthews||Fred VanVleet|
|F||Khris Middleton||OG Anunoby|
|F||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Pascal Siakam|
|C||Brook Lopez||Serge Ibaka|
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.