10 things I saw from Raptors-Bucks (Game 1)

  1. Curse of Game 1: It’s peak Raptors to get caught up on the most insignificant things. Always losing to the Bulls, not being able to win in the playoffs, and now it’s the Game 1 problem. The Raptors have somehow lost nine-straight Game 1s over two decades. This is just another mental hurdle that they need to get over.
  2. Fear the Deer: The Bucks did what could be expected of them. They blitzed the ball, were active on defense, played a drive-and-kick in the halfcourt and looked to run whenever possible. Their calling card is physicality and athleticism and while we matched them for a half, Toronto wore down as the game went on.
  3. Kyle Lowry eats this loss: It’s harsh to pin the whole loss on one player, but Lowry is that singularly important to the team. Lowry was a minus in every aspect of the game outside of passing. He looked slow, he didn’t effectively set the tempo, he was bad on defense, he was afraid to shoot at the rim, couldn’t turn the corner against the high traps, and bricked wide open threes. Lowry looked like Ben Uzoh out there.
  4. This is manageable: It’s tough to look on the bright side after a loss like this, but the series should still swing in favor of Toronto if Lowry plays to his capacity. This was a two possession game heading into the fourth, but the typically excellent Lowry and bench unit completely collapsed. Fix Lowry, fix the Raptors.
  5. Silver linings: Serge Ibaka was incredible on both ends of the floor. He filled in beautifully as the third scorer (although I wouldn’t mind if he were a little more aggressive with his shot) and was tremendous on defense. DeMar DeRozan was lights out in the first half and got to the rim whenever he wanted before fading down the stretch. Those two did their jobs tonight.
  6. Giannis is a problem: Giannis showed zero fear whatsoever as he came out of the game aggressive and looking to dunk on everyone and anyone. DeMarre Carroll was too weak at the point of attack, didn’t disrupt the transition game, and allowed Giannis to overpower him in the halfcourt. PJ Tucker and Patrick Patterson both did a much better job checking Giannis. Dwane Casey needs to look long and hard at a starting lineup change to get our best defenders in to begin the game.
  7. Maximize Jonas: The defense will suffer with Jonas on the floor, so you might as well give him the ball if he’s going make up that difference on offense. Jonas was great as a screener, freeing DeRozan for his drives to the rim, but the Raptors rarely tried to get Jonas in the post, even when the offense died in the second half. I understand why Casey is reluctant to call those post-ups since it stagnates the offense, but you have to go to Plan B when Plan A fails.
  8. Mismatch: Khris Middleton attacking Cory Joseph in the post threw the Raptors for a loop. They didn’t know if they were doubling, or if they were playing him to drive and help at the rim. Middleton didn’t even shoot well and he still picked us apart.
  9. A word to Leafs fans: Shut the fuck up and know your place. You already have EVERYTHING. Chanting “Go Leafs Go” and demanding to have the feed changed during the fourth quarter at Jurassic Park was beyond frustrating, but also the most predictable thing ever. And you wonder why everyone hates you.
  10. This just hurts. It hurts. But the Raptors have rallied from this situation before.