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Raptors go buck, beat Milwaukee 122-100

The Raptors led almost wire to wire and took care of business at home against the Bucks

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors are quite good. The Bucks came into this game 11-11, rising and showing potential, but the Raptors didn’t let them breathe from the jump, as they took this one 122-100. Aside from a slight, somewhat expected blip in the third quarter, they never looked in any kind of danger at any point during the game. The Bucks are a decent, feisty unit led by budding star Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Raptors made them look a lot worse than they really are. Toronto is really, really good.

The Bucks never saw the lead again after leading 8-7 in the first quarter. Although the Raptors starting lineup has had problems in establishing control of games, they were effective tonight in maintain an unassailable advantage. The Raps took a 33-23 lead after the first frame, powered by eight assists on 12 made FGs, and Jonas Valanciunas controlling the glass with six rebounds despite having a poor shooting night by his standards.

Derozan and the bench stretched the lead to double digits, and that lead stretched to a massive 26-point margin in the second quarter after Lowry and the bench checked in. The ebbs and flows of Raptors’ games have become predictable at this stage -- starting lineup: bad; DeMar + bench: good; Lowry + bench: super nova.

The 36-26 margin in the second quarter actually does a disservice to the Raptors’ dominance. The Bucks salvaged some pride by going on a 7-0 run to close the half, but they were absolutely outplayed prior to that stretch. Terrence Ross had 12 points in the frame, DeRozan ended the half with 16 points on THREE shots. It was looking like a beat down.

The third quarter lull was to be expected simply based on the fact that the stifling defensive rotations and zippy ball movement couldn’t possibly be replicated by a unit featuring Pascal Siakam and Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors essentially just want the starting lineup to hold the fort for their potent bench to go berserk. That briefly felt like it wouldn’t happen. Giannis, who had six points at that stage, tallied 15 all on his own, and Jabari Parker joined him with some precise back cuts and distance shooting to help the Bucks cut the lead to ten to enter the fourth quarter. The Bucks also interestingly trapped the Raptors guards and tried to force a play out of Siakam, Valanciunas and Carroll, which wasn’t really working out.

Normalcy was restored in the fourth quarter when Lowry and the bench checked in and Terrence Ross promptly went insane. He hit two threes, another jump shot, a push shot, missed a breakaway windmill off a steal, got fouled on a three. It was peak Terrence Ross. The Raptors’ lead, which dropped below double digits for a brief speck of time, once again stretched out to 20. The defence was sharp again, as the Bucks scored only 18 in the quarter. Lowry and DeRozan played only 34 and 32 minutes respectively, as the Raptors ended up taking this one 122-100.

Miscellaneous Notes:

  • DeRozan had 30 points on 11 shots in 32 minutes while going 15-of-15 from the free throw line. When the Raptors lead looked to be kinda/sorta under threat, he kept the Bucks a safe distance away. He’s like a boxer establishing the jab.
  • Lowry is ridiculous: 18 points on 9 shots and a team-leading +29. Even his quiet nights are dominant.
  • How lucky are the Raptors to have both Terrence Ross and Norman Powell? Both are good in their own right, but can’t even start for this team. Powell had his time to shine against the Celtics, and Ross dropped 25 in 21 minutes tonight. Ross is going to look nice in Atlanta when the Raptors acquire Paul Millsap.
  • One of the interesting subplots to this season is comparing how Bebe and Jonas are used. Jonas had 23 minutes, Bebe had 20, and the latter played most of the fourth quarter. Part of the reason Jonas looks so poor defensively at times is because of the unit he’s burdened with playing alongside, but Bebe’s length, mobility and awareness are instrumental to the bench unit’s effectiveness.
  • With the two rotation Cs eating 43 minutes among them, and Poeltl playing 3 garbage time minutes, that means we had two minutes of a centre-less Patterson-Carroll pairing. Interesting wrinkle, and if the starting lineup continues to flounder, I wonder if we’ll be seeing some more of it, especially as DeMarre Carroll reaches full fitness.
  • Giannis is going to be a monster. He had 30-8-5-3 and basically received no help aside from Jabari Parker. He’s so damn good without a jumpshot, and so tenacious on both ends of the floor. Milwaukee has a gem.

So the Raptors move to 17-7 and solidify their standing in second. Your thoughts?