Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
In a game with huge playoff implications, the Milwaukee Bucks may have put the final nail in the coffin of Toronto's postseason dreams.
Well, Toronto isn't mathematically out of the playoff hunt, but they are certainly in need of some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at the moment.
Despite a valiant effort throughout (most of) the night, the Raptors were unable to pull out a much-needed victory, dropping their fourth-straight game in a 122-114 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night.
Rudy Gay sat this one out with back spasms, so Toronto was handicapped right from the get-go, missing their leading scorer. With the game as close as it was, it would have been nice to have our closer out there to help seal the deal in crunch time, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers.
Let me just say this right off the top; that was one bloody entertaining game. Maybe I'm overselling things, but after watching this team put up sub-par efforts against the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers, it was just nice to see some more heart, desire and passion out of the Raptors for this important matchup.
They lost the game, but you can't fault them for lack of effort.
Moving into the starting lineup as some insurance on offense with Gay on the sidelines, Andrea certainly took advantage of the situation, if only from an effort standpoint.
His shooting numbers were still a problem (4 for 14, 11 points), but it looked like he had some extra pip in his step. He was attacking the basket, rebounding (seven in total) and playing some solid defense (two blocks). He looked confident, which is saying something, because he usually never shows any emotion.
It faded off towards the end of the game, but for at least the first two quarters, Andrea showed signs that he's possibly turning things around.
Can't a guy be optimistic?
Lowry finished the night with a triple-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but it was an extremely forgettable and quiet triple-double, if that's even possible.
He made some questionable passes late in the fourth (six turnovers in total) and overtime, and never truly left his mark on the game, which is very depressing considering how well he was distributing the ball in the opening quarter (six assists).
It's a nice stat line, but it ultimately amounted to nothing.
47 minutes? A line of 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals?
I'll take it.
This is what Raptors fans want to see more of from Fields in the future. It was a pleasant surprise to not only see Landry get a lot of playing time, but for him to leave a lasting impression in the process. He stepped up his game when the team needed him to do so, even in a losing effort.
Not to take anything away from his performance (21 points, 8 for 20 from the field), but I still believe the Raptors are better off when Anderson isn't leading the team in scoring.
Sure, Rudy Gay wasn't around, so Anderson had more freedom to shoot the ball, but in the final 17 or so minutes, he took some shots that just made you want to rip your hair out. Thankfully, a majority of them went in, including an off the backboard jumper and a three-pointer in transition.
His baseline dunk past Bucks center Larry Sanders took the game into overtime, so there's that. Still, 20 shots is a lot, but for at least this game, Toronto needed the scoring to keep up with Milwaukee's onslaught.
Where in the world is Jonas Valanciunas?
What's a guy have to do to get some playing time around here? I thought he played terrific in the first half. He was fighting for boards (five rebounds, three offensive in 11 minutes) and providing Toronto with some good energy in a reserve role.
Well, as good as Toronto was on offense (46% shooting, six players in double-figures), the Bucks were just that much better.
Brandon Jennings, who didn't contribute much offensively (11 points, 25% from the field), finished with a career-high 19 assists, which is very uncharacteristic of him, as he has a reputation for being more of a scorer, rather than a facilitator.
They had so many weapons on offense, that it was difficult for Toronto to contend with all of their firepower, especially with Ilyasova, Ellis and newly-acquired J.J Redick shooting as well as they were (50% as a team).
So, what now?
What's the plan?
The Raptors are now eight games behind Milwaukee for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It's going to be next to impossible to catch up.
Honestly, there should only be three things on the teams to-do list from now until the end of the year.
1) Raise the trade value of Andrea Bargnani. It's going to be quite the difficult task, making "Il Mago" look like a million bucks over the next few months should be one of the team's top priorities.
2) Give rookies Valanciunas and Terrence Ross more time on the court. These two represent the long-term future of the franchise, so why not give them some more opportunities to shine?
3) Hopefully win some games in the process. Duh. Our draft pick is all but in the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, so tanking will do absolutely nothing at this point.