The Milwaukee Bucks were missing their two all star players in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton so the logical conclusion would be their offense would have some sort of struggle in this game since such a huge bulk of it would be on the bench in street clothes. Yet somehow, they were able to drop a staggering 130 points on the Toronto Raptors en route to a victory on TNT. The defense by Toronto last night was simply not good and it hasn’t been good for quite some time. There are too many leaks at the point-of-attack for the backline to patch up at times, there’s too much miscommunication, there’s just not a lot of players playing well on defense and that fact highlighted itself last night. Jrue Holiday went for a staggering 37 points, Grayson Allen went for 25 mostly in the second half after an unacceptable amount of wide open threes, Brook Lopez went for 19 points and he did a lot of his damage in the 3rd quarter after being left open for threes. The defensive scheme has been clear for many years now, but I don’t think part of the defensive scheme calls for you to leave guys uncovered in transition, it doesn’t call for you to be confused about if you are switching or not. To cut Toronto some slack I will say that a lot of Jrue’s points were just good shotmaking over some good defense, but to allow 37 on 71.2% TS is unacceptable.
Fred VanVleet was the dueling partner for Jrue Holiday last night as he went off for 39 points of his own, Fred has continued to be good after his excellent showing in the Garden. Fred was scoring at every level of the court and some of the shots he was putting in were extremely difficult. He was torching the Bucks drop defense with his shooting and he was even getting to the cup a bunch as well and pulled off some very crafty finishes, his playmaking was also excellent especially in the pick and roll where he hit the roll man in stride many times. But what needs to be talked about is Fred’s defense, specifically on the ball. Fred has been giving up drives at an uncomfortable rate and he is putting more strain on the backline than was ever thought possible. Whether it’s from his injuries or just a loss of speed, Fred has struggled keeping the ball in front and the last thing the Raptors need is another poor defender in the starting lineup. He was still spectacular on offense but he did give up a lot of points.
Nick Nurse’s minutes distribution is something else that needs to be addressed. The starters played 37(Fred), 43(Gary), 40(Pascal), 36(Scottie), and 34(OG) minutes last night on a back to back against an injured Bucks team just to end up losing to this Bucks team. Nurse used to be able to provide winning as an excuse for these high minutes but if the team is so poor and may end up losing anyway why risk your star’s bodies like this night after night. I think the high minutes are leading to problems elsewhere for the starters and it’s just not right.
The Raptors get a rest day before their next game vs Minnesota and they will need it, their record currently is 20-25 and if they have any hope of getting back on track they will need to put together some wins on this road trip.