Toronto Raptors: Three takeaways from win at Milwaukee

Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).
Toronto Raptors - Pascal Siakam (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images). /

The Toronto Raptors earned their most impressive win of the season against the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks. What did we learn from the win? Here are my three takeaways.

What a wild 48 hours it’s been for your proverbial Toronto Raptors stock. After getting shellacked by the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday, the Raptors rebounded for their best win of the season just two days later. At Milwaukee without Kyle Lowry or Jonas Valanciunas, that was impressive. The Raptors survived an unhuman performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, pulling out the victory 123-116.

Early on, it was all Milwaukee. The Bucks jumped out to a fast start, grabbing a seven-point lead within the first five minutes. Toronto kept calm, climbed back, and by halftime the lead was down to one.

During the second half, the Raptors found their rhythm. Toronto posted an offensive rating of 131.4 and outscored the Bucks 67-59. A back-and-forth contest until the final couple of minutes, this game was everything it was hyped up to be.

What did we learn from the win? Here are my three big takeaways:

1. A one-man show

There is a reason Giannis is currently the frontrunner for MVP. Against Toronto, he scored 43 points on incredible efficiency, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out four assists. He was 3-5 from beyond the arc, and when he is hitting his jumpshots, the only thing you can do is hope the Men In Black show up to take him back home.

Luckily, no one else on the Bucks was able to give a similar performance. Their second leading scorer was Malcolm Brogdon with 15 points on 45-percent shooting.

Toronto did a great job of swarming Antetokounmpo without drifting too far off shooters. When they were forced to commit a second defender, the defense’s rotations did a great job of covering up for one another. Giannis is unbelievable, but Milwaukee won’t win the East if they don’t have a consistent second-banana.

2. Bench reaches an all-time low

Fred VanVleet and Jonas Valanciunas might be the bench’s two best players. With them out, it’s okay if the unit struggles a little offensively. Toronto’s bench didn’t struggle. They didn’t show up.

The bench scored five total points and every player had a +/- of at least -12. Toronto was killed whenever the unit was on the floor, and it’s time to worry about a few individuals. OG Anunoby is having a killer sophomore slump, Delon Wright is afraid to shoot, and Greg Monroe is unplayable defensively.

Health will help the bench some. It won’t fix all their woes.

3. Milwaukee’s scheme has areas to attack

Milwaukee plays a very conservative defensive style. Their center typically takes a deep “drop”, meaning they stay back during a pick-and-roll hoping to protect the rim. The scheme is designed to place the center at the rim, leaving them vulnerable to three-point pull-ups and mid-range jumpers.

Plenty of successful defenses play drop coverage. Milwaukee, Utah, and Denver are three of the league’s most conservative styles. They all rank in the top-ten defensively. However, we learned tonight that Toronto has the personnel to take advantage of the Bucks’ scheme.

Fred VanVleet hit multiple three-point attempts out of the pick-and-roll. When Kyle Lowry returns, he should be able to do the same. Serge Ibaka scored at will in the mid-range tonight. If Lopez continues to drop, that shot will be available all series against Milwaukee. Kawhi Leonard didn’t destroy the Bucks scheme. They just don’t have anyone who can reasonably defend him other than Giannis.

The Bucks will have a few counters and will gameplan better once the playoffs start. They’ll also have a hard time defending Toronto with their current scheme.

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