The headline says it all, the Bucks played an awful Game 1 for three quarters and then played a phenomenal 4th quarter to win 108-100 over the Raptors. It was reminiscent of Game 1 against the Celtics where Giannis struggled to get to the rim, the defense played poorly, and the opposing team was getting what they wanted on the offensive end.
Giannis said the Bucks couldn’t come out against slow against the Raptors like they did against the Celtics, and he didn’t. The Bucks ran out to an 8-3 lead, mainly behind Giannis but that didn’t last. The Raptors took control with a 16-0 run and led throughout until the 4th quarter.
It was odd watching the first quarter, you really thought the Bucks would play much better in this Game 1 even with the Raptors making 7 threes in the first quarter alone. No way they could keep that pace up, their bench which was known for being weak in these playoffs was even making shots. No way that could last, but it did for the first half.
This game for the Raptors was all about Kawhi Leonard (obviously) and Kyle Lowry. Kyle Lowry went 7-9 on three pointers in this game in route to 30 points. Lowry has not been playing well throughout the playoffs but he came to ball last night. Kawhi added in his 31, and getting 60 points from your two best players should give you a win but that didn’t happen. The Raptors had no offense outside of those two guys in the second half and it came back to haunt them in the 4th quarter.
The Raptors scored 41 points in the second half after putting up 59 in the first. Give the Bucks defense a lot of credit in that fourth quarter, they came to play by holding the Raptors to only 17 points. But if you’re a Raptors fan – Kawhi needs more help because there is no way Kyle Lowry is putting up 30 PPG in this series. Of those 41 points, only 4 points were not scored by Kawhi or Lowry. Those four points went to Pascal Siakam on a buzzer 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter, and one free throw. Just awful.
For the Bucks this game was all about two guys: Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon. Lopez fucking balled out. He was only averaging about 5 PPG in the playoffs and exploded for 29. Since Lopez joined the Bucks this offseason he’s turned into a deadly 3-point shooting 7 footer. You’d think if he put up 29 he probably went off and hit 6 or 7 three’s, but really he was just 4-11 from three. Lopez made eight other shots by getting to the rim and had some very timely offensive put backs. Just like Kyle Lowry won’t score 30 PPG, Lopez won’t put up 29 PPG either but I think he’s gotta a better shot to consistently put up points above his average, which isn’t hard when it’s only 5 PPG.
The other star for the Bucks was Brogdon who ended with game with 15 PTS, 3 REB, and 3 AST and a +18 for the game. Brogdon came off the bench and I think he will for the rest of this series. Brogdon played great hitting three 3-pointers and playing great defense.
The Bucks really needed Brogdon and Lopez to step up because Middleton, Bledsoe, and Mirotic were all pretty bad. They were a combined 2-18 from three, and 10-33 from the field. Just like the Boston series, those guys will all not play that badly during the same game. The Bucks will get better contributions form those guys that will offset the reduced production from Lopez in upcoming games. However looking at Brogdon, I expect him to put up around 15 PPG during this series – he did average 15.6 during the regular season.
Looking ahead in this series it really feels like the Bucks stole this one from the Raptors. The Raptors controlled the game throughout and could have gotten a HUGE win on the road. Unlike the Blazers they got an extra day off and they looked much better for three quarters. What became evident is that Kawhi just needs help because he was fucking tired in that fourth quarter. He only had two points and all the work he did getting the Raptors up by 10 was for nothing because they blew it and he couldn’t do a damn thing in the final quarter.
For the Raptors, Lowry will not put up 30 again. Well, maybe he does it once more but they can’t count on that type of production. Their bench needs to come and play. Serge Ibaka played great for them in the 76ers series and they need him to get around double digits points. Fred VanVleet has been horrible during these playoffs, if you get a few good plays out of him I think your happy. Where they need production from his Marc Gasol and Danny Green. If those guys continue to only put up around 10 (they both had 6 this game), the Raptors are fucked.
For the Bucks its much like the Boston series except you stole a Game 1 win and are up 1-0 in the series. Giannis will play better and get to the rim more. He only made one shot in the second half but got to the line 12 times, even though he had a double-double he wasn’t too impressive. They need that first 3 minutes of the game Giannis to play a full 48.
The Bucks also won’t shoot that poorly again from three. They only shot 25% on 11-44 shooting. Middleton, Mirotic, Bledsoe should all shoot better from three going forward. Although you’re not going to get 29 from Lopez every night, if you can get like 10 from him then the Bucks will be in good shape because those other three starters are going to get theirs. Also, let’s not forget that Pat Connaughton and George Hill put up zero points. Different guys play better in different series so maybe the Raptors aren’t a good match-up for those two, but to get no points from both those guys won’t happen again.
Looking forward to Game 2 on Friday Night.