The Milwaukee Bucks are the top team in the eastern conference and to some, the top team in the NBA, and if there was ever a litmus test that Toronto wanted to use in order to measure exactly how they fare in the NBA, this was it. The night ended in defeat but this should be classified as a good loss rather than one that keeps everyone’s heads down.
The first half was about as even as it gets with Milwaukee leading 58-56. Toronto was able to withstand Milwaukee shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three by once again getting offensive contributions from a wide variety of players. Gary Trent Jr. led the way with 12 points and he provided a spark off the bench like he has many times this season, relocating to give ball handlers an easy target, just more tough shot making along with good activity on the defensive end. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby all left the first half with 9 points and it’s this kind of dependability that allows Toronto to stay afloat when the defense leaves more to be desired. OG Anunoby continued his scoring onslaught in a very efficient manner, he took Khris Middleton off the dribble many times and he continues to look very comfortable creating his own offense. Fred once again was a dream point guard for Toronto recording 5 assists as well and it came in transition, the pick-and-roll, and through Fred just making the extra pass.
Khris Middleton may not have fared well on defense but he surely made up for it on the offensive end, hitting three after three and just some really tough contested looks as well recording 20 points in the contest. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a 22 point triple double and he went 100 percent from the field as well and Toronto did all they could do on defense, showed him multiple bodies, brought plenty of help, but Milwaukee shot so well it ended up burning them. Brook Lopez was the player who really put Toronto to bed, recording 26 points. Lopez just bludgeoned Toronto on the inside and he hit layups, floaters, threes, and he played outstanding defense as well, deterring many shots on that end.
Toronto should keep their heads up after this one because even after Scottie Barnes left the game with a wrist injury, and with Pascal returning to his slump form, they still found themselves in the ball game thanks to the efforts of Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poetl, and OG Anunoby. OG had 13, Jakob and Fred both had 14 in the second half and they really stepped up when it was needed. If you had similar production from Pascal along with a healthy Scottie they may have even won this game, but sadly the reality is different. Trading blows with a contender is something you aspire to do because it tells you a lot about your team and after last night it’s clear this team has some juice and is ready to continue fighting their way to the postseason.
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