The most important thing to note in this game was that the Bucks were missing major contributors in Michael Redd, Charlie Villanueva, Bobby Simmons and Maurice Williams. So when the Raptors walked in to the Bradley Center, they knew they had a good chance to come out with a win, a perfect response to the New Jersey debacle which saw the starters combine for 29 total points.
The Bucks opened up an early 6-0 lead and it looked early on that the New Jersey nightmare would continue. The Bucks continued to play competitive basketball with Brian Skinner, Andrew Bogut and Ruben Patterson leading the way by dominating the paint. A deep zone forced Toronto to settle for outside shots and although the strategy was working early on, the Raptors moved the ball in and out of the post to eventually tie the score by the end of the first quarter. The Raptors dominated the second stanza with a balanced scoring attack, opening up a 12 point half-time lead. The game was played at a frenetic pace which favoured the Raptors thanks to a deep bench. The Bucks never got closer than nine and couldn’t pressure the Toronto offense enough to mount a legitimate comeback. 90-77 to the Raptors.
But there’s more to talk about than the somewhat predictable result of the game. Andrew Bogut, the second year man out of Utah had a strong game with 17 points and 18 rebounds. He absolutely dominated the Raptors, especially Nesterovic, on the glass and offensively in the paint. Anytime the Bucks went to him, something positive happened legitimizing his recent demand for the ball in Milwaukee. He was a physical force inside and the Raptors didn’t have an answer for him. The best they could do was to make him play some defense by making him guard Bargnani. The rookie was settling for too many long range bombs and often times it appeared he wasn’t considering option 2 and 3 before opting for option 1. Fortunately for him he went a respectable 4-11 FG (3-4 3pt FG) which made the early triggers easier to stomach.
After going scoreless in New Jersey, TJ Ford had 15 points and 10 assists including some key points and passes in the Raptors second quarter run. But the man for Toronto was Chrish Bosh who poured in a manly 30 points on 11-16 FGs, many of them of the emphatic variety coming after a series of fakes. Bosh who before the game was working with Raptors shooting coach Dave Hopla, also went 8-8 from the FT line to cap of his night. But most impressively, his six loud blocks which easily equated to a dozen points sparked the Raptors defensively. The Bucks never conceded this game and if it weren’t for an aggressive performance by the Raps, both offensively and defensively, this one would’ve been much tighter.
Joey Graham was getting punished by Ruben Patterson who gave the physical forward a dose of his own medicine by posting him up and taking him hard to the rim. Broken record Leo Rautins correctly suggested that Graham concede the jumper and instead focus on taking away the drive. Once this finally happened in the second and third quarters, things were much harder for Patterson who might serve a great purpose as hired help for a title contending team. Joey Graham is doing everything he can to vie for the Most Inconsistent Raptor title but Mo Pete is doing his best to retain it. Fred Jones hit a jumper so that must’ve done something for his confidence. Unfortunately, he also had a turnover and two fouls and went 0-2 from downtown in just 3:38 of playing time. His game is rustier than a hundred year old nail and whatever he’s doing in practice doesn’t seem to be working. At this point, he’s the swingman who’s on the outs.
Chuck Swirsky debated with Leo Rautins that if he were the Bucks, he’d take Marvin Williams ahead of Andrew Bogut. Leo disagreed. Swirsky then brought out the salami and cheese with 3:01 to go in the fourth and Leo actually called him out for bringing out the salami with more than half a quarter to be played against the Lakers. Chuck denied it and Leo responded, “Take it like a man”.
Thanks to Chasin from RealGM for the YouTube highlights:
Game in a Flash
You can see more videos on Chasin’s RealGM thread.