1 stud and 1 dud from chaotic Raptors victory against Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05: Jordan Nwora #13 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes up for a shot during the first half against the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JANUARY 05: Jordan Nwora #13 of the Milwaukee Bucks goes up for a shot during the first half against the Toronto Raptors (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Pascal Siakam and Toronto Raptors came into a matchup against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks looking to pick up their third consecutive win in 2022. Fred VanVleet, Chris Boucher, and the rest of the squad had to like the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo was ruled out before the game.

The first half was one of the most difficult exhibitions of basketball to watch all season long, as Toronto surrendered 77 points in two quarters to a team that was not at full strength. Whatever Nick Nurse said at halftime worked, as Toronto was rejuvenated to start the second half.

Despite a very haphazard closing stretch, Toronto left Milwaukee with a 117-111 victory. After allowing 77 points in the first half, the Raptors were able to hold the Bucks to just 11 third-quarter points and make enough timely shots to come away with their fourth straight win.

The first-half stats show that there were a few Raptors who put together some subpar showings. Luckily, they were balanced out by a handful of Raptors who stepped up when Nurse challenged them.

117. 81. 111. 89. Final

Pascal Siakam led the Toronto Raptors in this game.

While most of the last few weeks have been dominated by the VanVleet All-Star campaign, Siakam has been playing some of the best basketball of his career. While No. 23 put in another quality night of work, Pascal was without question the team’s best player in this game.

Siakam led the team with 33 points on 13-23 shooting in 42 minutes. With five boards and six assists, Siakam took advantage of a Bucks defense that lacked Giannis’ versatility in the paint and went to town on the backups.

Siakam has been rebounding the ball extremely well of late, as his rebounds per game average would set a new career-best if he keeps this pace up. With his interior finishing helping his scoring get back to the same level it was at before the unusual Tampa season, Siakam looks to be fully back in the swing of things after his offseason injury.

While the lack of a true center came back to bite the smaller, positionless Raptors early in the season, Siakam has reinvented himself to become as deadly a weapon in the post as he’s ever been. This will serve the Raptors well in their postseason push.

Chris Boucher and Khem Birch stunk it up for the Toronto Raptors.

While Scottie Barnes didn’t have a very good game due to his timidity on the offensive end, both Boucher and Birch are splitting the dubious honor after tonight’s showing.

It’s a tie. They both played poorly.

The main reason Milwaukee was able to rebound from their slow start was their poor scoring and tissue-thin defense.

A Boucher 3-pointer was the only offense either of them provided, as they combined to go 1-5 from the field. With some very poor interior defense and rebounding from both of these players, DeMarcus Cousins looked like he was back in Sacramento and Sandro Mamukelashvili (of all people) was going nuts.

While it is tough for Nurse to play three poor shooters in Boucher, Birch, and Precious Achiuwa together for heavy minutes, the former two did not do a very good job of asserting themselves on either end. With Boucher a few games removed from a brilliant December, this was a disheartening game for him.

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