Not only were Darko Rajakovic and his Toronto expected to be crushed by Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the mighty Milwaukee Bucks, but they had to be pommel horses for a former Raptors assistant in Adrian Griffin and a one-time Raptors trade target in Lillard as they went about torching a hapless team.
The Raptors had to be eyeing this game against Lillard. Amid speculation that Toronto could pull the trigger and make a game-changing trade with the Blazers, Lillard’s camp leaked that he would not be too keen on a trade to Toronto. Scotiabank Arena took notice, and Toronto made life hell on Lillard and the Bucks.
Toronto trounced Milwaukee 130-111 in a humiliating night of basketball for Giannis and friends. With all five Raptors starters easily eclipsing double figures, Griffin’s defense was nonexistent. Toronto held Antetokounmpo to 16 points on five made shots, while Lillard managed just 15 points.
A generous whistle gave both of them extra trips to the line.
If Lillard came in and cooked to send the Raptors to 1-4, the fire sale alarm would be sounding as loud as ever. Instead, the Raptors played their best game of the Rajakovic era, and it came at the expense of Lillard and his refusal to suit up for Toronto.
Toronto Raptors fans will love dominating Damian Lillard and embarrassing Bucks.
What made this game more encouraging was the fact that names who likely would have been sent to Portland in a Lillard deal, like OG Anunoby and Otto Porter Jr., made impact plays on both sides of the ball. Even with Precious Achiuwa on the mend, Milwaukee’s best were kept in check.
Toronto’s offense is still a work in progress despite their tremendous showing in this contest, but they have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams in the league. Anunoby and Dennis Schroder made it tough for Lillard to get anything going, while Antetokounmpo didn’t reach double digits until the second half and had to fight for every point.
While Lillard and Antetokounmpo continued to remain stuck in neutral, Scottie Barnes stayed hot while topping 20 points for the fourth consecutive game, Jakob Poeltl and Schroder both recorded double-doubles, and Toronto outrebounded Milwaukee 50-29 in a stunning showing.
Toronto can’t feel confident in saying all their issues are fixed, but the fact they embarrassed one of the best teams in the league in every facet has to feel uplifting and vibe-restoring. Lillard could have been a part of this core if he only had an open mind about Canada.