Well this was fucking ugly to watch as a Bucks fan. Even though they were up by 10 at one point in the third quarter, it never looked like the Bucks were actually playing well in Game 5. The Raptors once again played phenomenal defense on Giannis and the rest of the Bucks squad couldn’t pick up the slack.
First, let’s look at the Raptors. Kawhi has obviously been the best player in the playoffs thus far, and I am saying that even with what Steph Curry has done in the West. Kawhi finished with 35 PTS, 7 REB, and 9 AST. He has played way better than Giannis has this series, partly because he has more offensive skill. The other big offensive explosion for the Raptor was fucking Fred VanVleet. This fucking guy. He shot 7-9 from three and finished with 21 points. Just unreal. I feel like very game this series the Raptors have had a guy just go OFF from three point range. In Game 1 it was Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell has done it, and even Kawhi was 5-8 from three in this game. As I mentioned before not only are they destroying the Bucks from three point range, but every three they makes comes at the perfect time for them it seems like. Bucks make a run to get back into the game? Raptors hit a three. Bucks pulling away from the Raptors? Raptors hit a three. Shot clock winding down on the Raptors? Raptors hit a three. It is so demoralizing as a Bucks fan to watch them hit clutch three after clutch three.
The Raptors also played great defensively. There are countless number of times that Giannis is running into a wall and turning the ball over or taking an awful shot. The Raptors have been executing this plan this whole series, compared to Boston who was only able to do it for Game 1 in the previous serious against the Bucks. Not only that, but in the pivotal 4th quarter the Raptors were hustling and getting the boards way more than the Bucks. The Raptors got five offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter that led to 8 points. Bucks lost by 6. Just fucking sad.
As great as the Raptors have been on offense, the same thing can be said about how the guys on the Bucks have played offensively without the Raptors defense effect them.
Let’s start with Eric Bledsoe. He came out of his shell and scored 20 points but man he cannot shoot, the Raptors know it and they are letting him take every open three he can. Much like the Bucks do on defense in leaving average shooters open, the Raptors are letting Bledsoe shoot and he’s just awful. It’s not only that, but it’s opposite of what the Raptors do with their threes. Whether its Bledsoe, Mirotic, Lopez, or even Middleton the Bucks take quick threes in times it would he HUGE for them – but they miss and the Raptors come back down the court and score. Bledsoe needs to attack the rim, attack it even more, and then keep attacking.
Nikola Mirotic is the other guy for the Bucks doing jack shit this series. He had zero points yesterday in 9 minutes with a -11 for the game. If he doesn’t score early on in Game 6 whenever he goes in, yank him. He is a liability on defense and if he’s not shooting well, then what is point of playing him? I mean you’re +46 with him on the bench, keep him there.
We also need address Khris Middleton and his horrible offensive output. He has scored 11, 12, 9, 30, and 6 in this series. Unacceptable from your second best player and a guy who is looking to get a max contract this offseason. In the regular season he shot 37.8% from three. In this series he’s shot 16.7%, 66.7%, 16.7%, 57.1%, and 0% from three. He’s shooting 33.3% from three this series. The Bucks need him to have a big game on Saturday to have a chance.
Finally let’s look at Giannis. Giannis had 24 PTS, 6 REB, and 6 AST. Not a bad game if you look at just the stats, he was also 2/3 from three. Giannis did not play well again. I hate Chris Webber as a color guy, he says some stupid shit all the time. Kind of like when Giannis rolled his ankle a bit and went out and then Chris Webber was ripping him to shreds saying he’s tired and needs to get back in the game in, and then Giannis walked it off and got back in the game. BUT, he did make a good point. Giannis attacks the lane out of control way to much. The Raptors put up that wall and Giannis is constantly off balance of jumping in the air trying to get the ball out, or he puts up an awful shot and looks for a foul. Giannis needs to be patient in these situations, read the defense, and actually make them defend. Right now just running into three guys is doing nothing, because the passes out aren’t crisp so the Raptors can shift defensively pretty easily. He’s also making them not actually guard him. The Raptors are literally letting him run into them and then just hope the get a charge call, or a strip somehow. Giannis needs to do a better job of making the Raptors defend in the half court.
We also need to mention Giannis at the free throw line. He is shooting 30- 50 which is 60%. He shot 4-9 in Game 5. He’s air-balled two free throws in this series already. He has got to be better when he gets to the line. The Bucks only shot 18 free throws in Game 5 and made 13, Giannis had every miss. They lost by 6. Compare that to Kawhi, who is shooting 46-50 from the line. HUGE difference, Kawhi went 8-9 from the line in Game 5. And as a whole, the Bucks are shooting 72% from the free throw line in this series, while the Raptors are shooting 82%. It’s these small things that add up. The missed free throws, the missed WIDE OPEN threes. If the Bucks hit a few more of each, this series could already be over.
The last thing I’d like to mention if the refs last night. I feel like NBA is always pretty awful but yesterday seemed like a VERY poor game from an officiating stand point. First of all, there are guys bumping into each other every time down the court and they just call that when they feel like it. Secondly, the constantly call fouls when it looks like a foul. I feel like there are 4 or 5 shooting fouls every game where the shooter doesn’t even get touched. Yesterday, Brooke Lopez got called for a shooting foul from the REF AT HALF COURT. Never mind the ref two feet away who didn’t see anything. Show the replay, no foul. The Raptors shot 31 free throws to the Bucks 18. That’s going to happen in games. I’m sure Raptors fans want to see traveling called more on Giannis, or think he charges a majority on the other. I see Giannis putting up some shots where it looks like he’s getting mauled, then some ticky tack bullshit gets called two minutes later 35 feet from the basket. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. The refs should never be the story in any game, but especially this late in the season. Let’s hope the reffing is much better for both sides in Game 6.
So as we go into Game 6, we need to be honest. The Raptors have out played the Bucks for four out of five games this series, yet the Bucks stole Game 1, and could have won Games 3 and 5. The Bucks need to come out and attack the basket. The threes are not falling for them, those guys that are struggling need to see the ball go in the hoop whether that be from layups, dunks, of the free throw line. Defensively, Kawhi is going to get his. They played much better in Game 5 but just making their shooters more uncomfortable can go a long way. They need to try and get VanVleet, Powell, and Lowry off their spots more often.
We finally have a series. Game 6 Saturday Night. Fear the Deer.