In a few months, as we reflect on the season that was, there's a good chance this game will be circled on our calendar, the one that sealed the Raptors fate as a non-playoff team. Tonight's loss put the Raptors 8.5 games back of the Bucks, although in reality they're 9.5 games back, due to the tiebreaker that's is now in the hands of Milwaukee.
I hate to be negative, but those are facts.
The Raptors are not mathematically eliminated, but neither were the Leafs, Raptors and Jays months prior to the end of their recent seasons, and we know how their seasons turned out.
It would take a Milwaukee collapse, or a huge Raptors run; likely both, for the Raps to make the playoffs, but anything is possible in the NBA, so the Raptors still have a chance.
Now that the bad news is out of the way, let's talk about the game. The Raptors actually played well! More on that:
A Rapid, Rapid Recap
The Raptors came out strong, taking a ten point lead early in the second quarter. Due to a big third quarter from the Bucks, Milwaukee retook the lead, and seemed to be running away with the game. That was until John Lucas entered the game, drilled four threes, and brought the Raptors back within striking distance. It remained tight throughout the fourth quarter, with each team trading blows. The Raptors were running their offense through Alan Anderson, the Bucks JJ Reddick. The Raps were down two with six seconds left, and with Rudy out, the ball went to his replacement, Alan Andrson. AA was one on one with Larry Sanders in the corner, and took advantage of the speed advantage, as he got by him for the dunk, sending the game to overtime. In overtime the Bucks took control, and outplayed the Raptors in every way. A 122-114 Bucks win was the final result.
MVP: Kyle Lowry
The offense was great in tonight's game, as the improved ball movement was evident from the first whistle. Just as Lowry takes the blame when the offense struggles, he deserves some credit when the offense is working.
Not to mention his triple double, of course, with 10 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.
LVP: Rudy Gay
Although both Andrea and DeMar were deserving of this award, I thought I'd think give it to someone not normally seen in this part of town.
After three ugly games from the Raptors, in which Rudy struggled mightily, he missed tonight's match game due to back spasms. The team didn't seem to miss him, as Anderson replaced him offensively, and Fields topped his skill on the defensive end. Gay's biggest issues are turnovers and ball movement, both of which were among the Raptors strengths tonight.
As great as Gay is, the Raptors sure didn't miss him tonight, and he needs to make sure he has a positive effect on the squad when he does return.
On Monday night the Raptors face the Warriors, as both teams look to follow disappointing Saturday losses with a victory.