Yes, taking both games in Toronto would have been huge, but a split of the two games is nothing to sneeze at. If Milwaukee can take Games 3 and 4 at the Bradley Center and go up in the series 3-1 (with potentially another home game in Game 6), well, the Bucks would be sitting pretty. Milwaukee basically flipped the home-court advantage -- as long as it can hold serve, so to speak.
THE CANADIAN PRESSThe Canadian Press
Thon Maker is Milwaukee's 'X' factor
After coming up with some big blocks in Milwaukee's Game 1 victory, Maker played 20 minutes in Game 2 -- a total he eclipsed just five times during the regular season (including the season finale in which a quartet of Bucks rested) -- and was on the floor in crunch time. Maker subbed in for Greg Monroe with 9:40 left in the game and never exited. Down the stretch had a block -- an athletic play, where he ran from behind Patrick Patterson and swatted a 3-point attempt, an alley-oop slam on a pass from Giannis Antetokounmpo and two assists. He's going to need to contribute a little more -- Maker finished with just five points on 2-of-7 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two blocks and a steal -- but clearly he energizes the team and his athleticism can be a big plus.
Ibaka and Lowry are OK
One storyline before Game 2 was that Serge Ibaka had injured his ankle, but he'd give it a go and remain in the starting lineup. While Ibaka made just 6 of 15 shots, he was 4 of 7 from 3 and also had seven rebounds, six assists (with just one turnover) and two blocks in 35 minutes. Guess that ankle is just fine. Lowry was better in Game 2 than Game 1 (when he had just four points), but was quiet in the fourth quarter -- until it mattered. He had missed his only two shots -- both 3-point attempts -- and with 5:23 remaining, Lowry, an 81.9 percent free-throw shooter this past season, made just 1 of 2 from the line. Lowry's next shot would come until over 5 minutes later. With the Raptors leading by two and the shot clock winding down, Lowry, being defended tightly by Malcolm Brogdon, made a quick move then hit a step-back 20-foot jumper with 8.9 seconds left to give Toronto a much-needed basket. Yeah, he's OK, too.
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Someone other than Giannis needs to step up
After making 13 of 18 shots in the opener, Toronto wanted to make sure it frustrated Antetokounmpo -- and it did. Giannis wanted the ball in his hands in crunch time, but the Raptors played tight defense throughout, forcing him into just 9-of-24 shooting. Even when Antetokounmpo hit a clutch 3 from the top of the key to tie the game at 100 with 2:03 left, there was a man in his face. Note that those points were the last the Bucks scored. Brodgon and Matthew Dellavedova both missed open looks from 3, Khris Middleton failed on forced pullup jumper as the shot clock was winding down (Antetokounmpo couldn't get a good look) and Brogon missed a contested 3 off an inbounds with around 5 seconds remaining. Middleton is just 10-for-29 shooting in the series (6 of 14 in Game 2). Dellavedova is 6 of 19. After going 6 of 13 in Game 1 and 4 of 7 on 3-point attempts, Brogdon was 3 of 11 (1 of 3) in Game 2.
THE CANADIAN PRESSThe Canadian Press
Jason Kidd is basically using a seven-man rotation
During the regular season, Milwaukee had 12 players average 10 or more minutes (not including Gary Payton II, who averaged 16.5 minutes in six games). Maker was not among those 12 (at 9.9 minutes). In the first two games, Kidd has limited his bench play, with only Monroe and Dellavedova seeing extended time. In both games, four players played 30+ minutes (Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Brogdon in each; Dellavedova in Game 1 and Tony Snell in Game 2). Besides Dellavedova (who has played 31 and 22 minutes), Monroe, who averaged 22.5 minutes off the bench in the regular season, has been the only regular substitute, playing 46 minutes in the two games. In Game 2, Kidd used Mirza Teletovic (12 minutes), Jason Terry (5) and Spencer Hawes (5) in limited fashion. In Game 1, Michael Beasley played five minutes and Rashad Vaughn got to come in at the end of the big win. John Henson has yet to play. Of the "other" subs, all have had a negative box score plus/minus in their appearances with the exception of Hawes in Game 2 (+2). Barring foul trouble or maybe the need for another 3-point sniper on the court, it sure looks like Kidd is going to rely on just those above-mentioned seven players. Toronto, by the way, is basically using an eight-man rotation with its starting five plus Cory Joseph, Patterson and P.J. Tucker.