Game 2 Preview: Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

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After Game 1, the Toronto Raptors find themselves in familiar territory. With their 97-83 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they remain winless in every playoff Game 1 they’ve played under Dwane Casey.

In this series in particular, stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo is the top priority. Antetokounmpo was brilliant in Game 1, however. He had a game-high 28 points on 72.2 percent shooting and didn’t seem fazed by whoever the Raptors threw on him. From DeMarre Carroll to P.J. Tucker to even Patrick Patterson, Antetokounmpo scored at will.

The Raptors may not completely shut down a talent like Giannis, but what they can do defensively to try and even the series up is limit the Bucks’ points in transition. Milwaukee played at an up and down pace and scored 17 fast break points compared to the Raptors four. The Raptors need to play more of a grind it out type of game and really establish the interior. Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 24 of the Raptors 47 rebounds. The Raptors also were outscored 40-36 points in the paint. That should not happen with the size advantage the Raptors have. The Bucks front court did a tremendous job in neutralizing the Raptors size.

They also need more production from their bench. They got next to nothing from Cory Joseph, Patrick Patterson, and P.J. Tucker. If Lowry is having an off night, they can’t afford to have their backup point guard, Joseph, be a non-factor as well. The Bucks, on the other hand, got big contributions from Matthew Dellavedova (11 points) and Greg Monroe (14 points and 15 rebounds). The Raptors’ bench is deeper and more talented on paper, but if the Bucks bench can equal their production going forward, they’ll be in great shape.

One very encouraging sign for the Bucks was the play of their two rookies Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker. It may not be realistic to expect Brogdon to outplay Kyle Lowry for the duration of the series, but if he can have similar production (16 points, 4-7 from three, only one turnover) and just play Lowry even, it will go a long way in the Bucks pulling off the upset. While Maker only played 15 minutes, he looked poised and had three crucial blocks. They will need him to continue to be a defensive anchor if they want to curtail the one area the Raptors had success, getting to the free throw line.

DeMar DeRozan was aggressive from the start, relentlessly attacking the rim and getting himself to the line a game-high 14 times and converting 13 of those attempts. The Raptors as a whole shot 33 free throws to the Bucks 15. For the Raptors to get back in this series, they’ll need to continue to be aggressive and try to get the Bucks frontline into foul trouble. Antetokounmpo and Monroe had four fouls each.

Game 2 Prediction: The Raptors have their work cut out for them in attempting to even the series. The Bucks looked poised and well-coached, blocking out the Raptors loud home crowd. They have, however, bounced back under Casey in series past. Look for Lowry to have a much better effort and for them to get more production from their bench. The Raptors take Game 2 and even the series up.