Preview: Bucks at Raptors
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have been here before, down 1-0 in a first-round playoff series.
After the Milwaukee Bucks earned a 97-83 victory Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors are 0-9 in opening games of first-round playoff series. They are 1-11 in Game 1 overall.
The Bucks go into Game 2 on Tuesday night knowing they can do no worse than a split before the series returns to Milwaukee.
It is one thing to lose, but the way the Raptors played in the second half of Game 1 was surprisingly poor.
Toronto was outscored 51-32 in the second half. All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry scored two points in the second half and four points for the game on 2-for-11 shooting. The Bucks played good defense but the effort was not there from the Raptors, either.
“It sounds like a yearly song we sing but we’re going to go as (Lowry) and DeMar (DeRozan) go and he’s got to be aggressive no matter what the defense is doing,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
“I thought our energy was high on the defensive end, against using our length, trying to make it tough,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “They have a lot of talented players over there that are going to put the ball in the basket. You just want to make it as tough as possible on them and I thought Thon (Maker) did that in the second half. I thought Moose (Greg Monroe) did a great job on the pick-and-roll, knowing they were going to put him in the pick-and-roll and he was up for it (Saturday).”
Lowry failed to score in double figures for the first time since Jan. 3 at San Antonio.
“Every shot I took was contested or ran off,” Lowry said. “They did a good job. They game-planned really well for us. That’s one thing about the playoffs, teams are gonna game-plan for me and DeMar. We gotta figure out ways to make tough shots or everybody else has to help us, we’ve got to get other guys to get even more open looks.”
Lowry is being urged to be more aggressive.
“Every time I (used) a screen, I had four arms around me,” Lowry said “Put it this way: I guess I’m (going to) have to force shots. My teammates want me to be more aggressive, so I’m (going to) have to force some more shots. Simple as that.”
Another problem for the Raptors is containing Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 28 points Saturday. Casey said Toronto must do a better job at getting back in transition.
“It wasn’t like they jumped out to a big lead or anything like that, but in the minute where it was important, we didn’t do a good job of getting back in transition,” Casey said. “(DeRozan) drives to the basket or (Lowry) drives to the basket and now it’s five on four or one on two or three. We need all five men or four men back to guard (Antetokounmpo), and out of that make sure we are in scramble mode and have our scramble rotation in and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
Antetokounmpo scored nine baskets in the paint Saturday.
“We were taking negative steps going toward the basket instead of getting back,” Casey said Sunday. “You know what freight train is coming down the road, so you’ve got to turn and sprint back. Make sure you have every man available. Our philosophy here from Day 1 is never to go to the offensive boards. There’s no reason for our wings to be going into the paint. You might think you’re going to get that ball, but you’re going to give up something on the other end.”
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, who scored 19 points and had 14 rebounds Saturday, was able to continue in Game 1 after turning an ankle in the third quarter. He did not practice Monday, is listed as day-to-day and is expected to play in Game 2.
Casey commented on the hard screens set by Milwaukee.
“We had numerous situations where they were cracking us with screens, whether illegal or not,” Casey said. “If they’re going to let us play that way, we’ve got to set screens that way.”
“It’s part of the game,” Kidd said. “It’s physical. It’s the playoffs. Everybody is going to set screens. Everybody is fighting for that inch.”
Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, who scored 16 points, said his team was prepared for a rugged battle.
“Physicality was really the emphasis going into the game,” Brogdon said. “Playing in that arena is tough. They’re always the more physical, faster-paced team at home. We knew we had to match that. All season we’ve been talking about screening hard and making people feel screens. I thought we did a good job of that.”