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In their first game of 2018, the Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Toronto Raptors, 131-127 in overtime.
Milwaukee’s defeat in the packed Air Canada Centre comes after the Bucks won a pair of tough Western Conference contests, and was an opportunity for the team to make up some ground in the East. Despite numerous chances to extend their winning streak to three, the Bucks just could never get over the hump and dropped a winnable game against a possible playoff foe.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ended up with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists, but was largely silent for the majority of the first half. He once again converted a pre-buzzer dunk, but this one was uncontroversial, given it was a) at the close of the first quarter, and b) nowhere near the baseline.
Giannis got back to normal in the second half, even though the Bucks didn’t make any discernible changes to create space for him to work. Every so often, though, Giannis doesn’t need a lot of space to do this:
Elsewhere for Milwaukee, Eric Bledsoe worked his way to 29 points (including 5/7 from deep), 7 boards, and 4 steals. Thon Maker also had a pleasantly productive outing with 16 points, including a trio of three pointers. Khris Middleton rode the Tough Shot Express on his way to 18 points (missing all four of his treys), and Malcolm Brogdon came off the bench to add 15 points and 6 rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova played during the Bucks’ late-game surge and notched 6 points, 10 assists, and 5 rebounds.
For Toronto, DeMar DeRozan was red hot for the Raps, logging a career-high and Raptors franchise record 52 points (17/29 from the field, 5/9 from deep, and a perfect 13/13 from the free throw line), as well as 8 assists. DeRozan’s output included an ultra-efficient 21 points on nine(!) shots in the first quarter, but DDR simply never let up. Kyle Lowry did his part, adding 26 points (on 13 shots), 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. No other Raptors broke double-digit points in regulation, but Fred VanVleet was instrumental in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Stat That Stood Out
-6: the differential in three point shots attempted between Toronto (14/33, 42.4%) and Milwaukee (13/27, 48.1%), in favor of the Raptors. Historically, neither team is renowned for their outside shooting, but the Raptors have at least tried to change that this year. Much and more has been made of Toronto’s offseason transformation, where they sought to forsake midrange jumpers in favor of corner threes. Star guards like DeRozan and Lowry will still take those shots, but the Raps seemed far more concerned with consistently working the ball around into good shots than the Bucks.