Posted on Monday, April 17, 2017
You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in roundball to figure out why the Milwaukee Bucks and not the Toronto Raptors won Saturday’s first-round playoff game in Toronto:
Kyle Lowry, the Raptors All-Star point guard, had a rare abysmal performance.
Lowry played 34 minutes and seemingly couldn’t do anything right. He scored a mere four points and was 2 of 11 from the field while misfiring on all six of his 3-point attempts.
Contrast that with his regular season numbers and you can fully see why the Raptors lost to the Bucks 97-83 and are now in almost a “must win’’ situation in Game 2 on Tuesday night in Toronto. During the regular season, Lowry averaged 22.4 points and shot a lofty 46 and 41 percent from the field and 3-point range, respectively.
“He’s a talented player and he’s probably going to shoot better than he did the last game,’’ Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “We just got to continue to make it tough.’’
Raptors coach Dwane Casey is confident his veteran leader will bounce back effectively.
Said Casey: “He had some good looks; he just missed some shots.’’
Switching it up
Giannis Antetokounmp turned in an impressive performance in the opener, scoring 28 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 38 minutes.
Antetokounmpo said the Raptors guarded him just like they did during the regular season.
“I didn’t see nothing different,’’ Antetokounmpo said.
Was he surprised the Raptors didn’t mix it up on him and try to disrupt his game?
“I didn’t even think about it,’’ Antetokounmpo said. “During the regular season, they had a lot of guys guarding me, too. (Serge) Ibaka guarded me,(PJ) Tucker guarded me, (DeMarre) Carroll guarded, so I didn’t see any difference.’’
Asked if he thought the Raptors will deploy a different defensive strategy against him in Game 2, Antetokounmpo didn’t seem to care.
“I don’t know; It’s up to them,’’ Antetokounmpo said. “I try to focus on what we’re going to do.’’
Having too much fun?
Antetokounmpo was assessed a questionable technical foul by veteran official Ken Mauer late in Sunday’s game after he thrust his arm into the air after blocking a shot by Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. The technical was later rescinded by the NBA on Monday.
“I wasn’t upset (with the T),’’ Antetokounmpo said “I was just excited; I was just excited. This is just my second time in the playoffs. I was just trying to enjoy the moment, live the moment. That’s what it’s all about.’’
While Tony Snell had appeared in 16 playoff games as a member of the Chicago Bulls, he had never started a postseason game until Sunday.
Snell said starting wasn’t that big of a deal but wanted to use his playoff experience to benefit his teammates. “I’ve got a little bit more experience than some players here; we have a very young team,’’ Snell said. “So I tried to set an example for them.’’
Snell has arguably the biggest defensive assignment for the Bucks: keeping Raptors high-scoring shooting guard DeMar DeRozan from having a monstrous game, like he did on several occasions late in the regular season.
“I just try to make it tough on him, make it as difficult as possible,’’ Snell said. “He’s going to get his points regardless.’’
Snell also believes DeRozan and Lowry, the Raptors’ dynamic backcourt, will be more engaged in Game 2 than Game 1.
“They’re going to be way more aggressive,’’ Snell said. “We got to be ready.’’
Safe to say, the Raptors will be more than pumped up for Game 2: Said Raptors coach Dwane Casey: “We’ve got to have an automatic start and get out as soon as that ball goes up.’’ … Bucks veteran big man John Henson didn’t get a single minute of action in Game 1. He said after Tuesday’s practice that he is fully healthy and that “I’m ready to play.’’ … Two of the last Bucks to leave the court Tuesday were Mirza Teletovic and Spencer Hawes, who shot a ton of 3-pointers, mostly from the left corner. Ibaka, who sprained his ankle in Game 1, said he expects to play in Game 2.