Let’s get this out of the way right now:
If there’s anyone who thinks they know what will happen Friday because of what happened Wednesday, they haven’t been paying attention and should have no attention paid to them.
As we’ve seen, each game is entirely different than the next. Maybe it’s the adjustments, maybe it’s the level of intensity, maybe it’s players figuring out what they can do against whoever is guarding them.
So that’s where we start.
But, that said, the 108-100 loss was a game that got away from the Raptors, they faded down the stretch and I don’t care how many shots they missed or who didn’t get or take enough in the fourth quarter, you cannot give up 32 points in the fourth quarter of a road playoff game and win. Not going to happen very often at all.
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So we take that for what it is — it wasn’t entirely a failure of the offence in the final 12 minutes, 32 is way too many points to give up and the fact only five of them were in transition lays waste to the opinion that turnovers or Milwaukee’s transition game were the reason.
The underlying fact, though, is that there’s very little carryover one game to the next and even losing a tough game they were in control of shouldn’t have an impact on Friday.
“If it’s a buzzer-beater and you lose, or if it’s a 30-point blowout and you lose, that game’s over,” Nick said.”We saw that in that last series. We went up and blow them out in the first game and it was going to be a cruise, but we know better than that. These teams are too good. Both teams are good. I thought the Philly series was going to be a long one, and a good chance this one will be, too.”
Now, on to minutia
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At least the second half, that is, and it cost Toronto again.
For as good as the three backups were in the second half – the first couple of minutes of the fourth quarter when the Bucks got back in it – maybe there was enough in the first half to calm some nerves in the sober light of day.
Norm Powell hit a couple of threes, Serge Ibaka was too quiet on the boards but he made a couple of shots and Fred VanVleet played with his usual defensive purpose.
But I don’t think they can afford again to play the three backups at the same time. I don’t think the Lowry-VanVleet coupling is as troublesome in this series as it was against the Sixers because the Bucks don’t have Philly’s size but things just seem to bog down when all three subs are on the floor at the same time.
That’s going to be an issue as the every-other-day schedule unfolds and the minutes and toll pile up on Leonard and Lowry, specifically, but we saw again last night, it’s not a look that’s good for Toronto.
We did have a lot of Lowry in the item I penned after it was all over.
And Bruce had this take on the situation.
The eye test would suggest the Raptors did a good job on Giannis Antetokoumpo and they did use a nice, swarming, doubling-tripling defence to keep him from doing too much damage at the rim.
But then you look and he’s got 24 points and 14 rebounds and six assists and three blocked shots and only two turnovers and he played 37 minutes and you go, “holy crap.”
And it wasn’t like he eased into the game.
He hit a little hook shot for the first bucket, got a rebound, blocked a shot and had a steal that he turned into a breakaway dunk all in the first 85 seconds of the game.
Man, it’s going to be fun watching him work in these circumstances for the next 10 of 12 days.
It’s not hard to point to where the game really turned, is it?
Start of the fourth quarter, Raptors are up seven and Nick has to buy sometime for Leonard, who had played 32:43 of the first 36 minutes, and Gasol, who’d been on the court for 29:59 of those 36 minutes.
There’s a Bucks miss, a Powell miss, a Lopez three, a VanVleet miss, a Giannis miss, another VanVleet miss and then a Lopez three that makes it a one-point game in the first 2:04 of the quarter. Nurse comes back with Gasol and Green as the Bucks go ahead on Mirotic free throws and Lowry makes a three to put the Raptors ahead again.
That’s when Leonard checks back in – Toronto up two and nine minutes left – and it’s the starters the rest of the way.
I know the narrative is the game was lost then but the fact is the Raptors were ahead when the starters came back, Toronto was up two with 3 ½ minutes to go.
All with the top five guys on the court.
Think they’ll take that every time out, if they can. Up two on the road, late in the game, best players playing well?
Sometimes the other guys – who also get paid – play well.
Gonna wrap this up quickly because it’s already too long and game-centric but just a couple of quick notes.
Don’t forget, if you want to get in on the mailbag fun for the weekend, it’s easily done.
Just click on firstname.lastname@example.org and let loose.
You’ll enjoy it.
A personal note.
As I’m sure you saw, Rob Babcock died yesterday, pancreatic cancer and he was only 66 and that sucks, big time.
I don’t think too many of you got to know Rob in his relatively brief time he was here but I did and I knew and his brothers Pete and Dave well before he got hired in Toronto and they were two first-class gentlemen.
We were all highly critical of Rob after he left, and when he was in Toronto and rightfully so, I don’t think he was cut out to be an NBA general manager and he knew what I thought.
But he never held a grudge, never treated me differently and whenever I’d see him in the years after that, at games in Minnesota or at some league event, he’d stop by and say hello and we’d catch up on things and families.
He was a nice, friendly, good-hearted gentleman and I mourn his passing.
Full credit to orginal post, courtesy of: https://www.thestar.com/sports/doug_smiths_sports_blog/2019/05/16/it-ll-be-known-as-the-one-that-got-away-from-the-raptors.html