The Toronto Raptors were thoroughly embarrassed in Milwaukee on Thursday night, trailing by as many as 34 and down by roughly 30 for most of Game 3 versus the Bucks. Now armed with a 2-1 lead in the first-round series, the Bucks and their fan base are riding high. So too are the local media, who saw a young, hungry team lay a whupping on the more experienced Raps.
Here’s what the Milwaukee papers and blogs are saying about the Raptors-Bucks series after Game 2:
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel— Bucks win fight by sticking together
The bedraggled, bewildered Toronto Raptors didn’t know what hit them, except that it was big and nasty and knocked them around from the opening tip to the merciful final buzzer.
Watching the sixth-seeded Bucks utterly destroy the third-seeded Raptors, 104-77, in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series, it was hard to believe this team once was 22-30, disjointed and dispirited.
…Toronto, and maybe all of Canada, probably wasn’t fond of Rashad Vaughn taking and making a three-pointer with 4 seconds left in a game that was decided, oh, three quarters earlier but, hey, somebody had to light the victory cigar.
The Bucks so thoroughly outplayed the Raptors that they led, 48-17, midway through the second quarter. Forty-eight. To seventeen. It has to rank as one of the best stretches of basketball in franchise history.
Loud. Rambunctious. Deafening. All of those words and more described the atmosphere at the Bradley Center to start things out. It would continue all night, in a decimating 104-77 win for the Milwaukee Bucks. Definitive. Destructive. Delightful. This was a game plucked from Bucks fans’ dreams.
…The raucous environment immediately provided excitement out of the gates, as a Khris Middleton 3-pointer lit the match. From there, ball movement and slicing the Toronto defense paved the way for a magnificent opening 12 minutes.
Contested shots at the rim were the consistent theme early on for the Bucks defense. Every time Toronto worked the ball in the paint, one of Milwaukee’s long-armed aliens was there to distract it. It clearly looked as if it was frustrating the Raps early on, but it never took them too much out of things.
Journal-Sentinel— Bucks 104, Raptors 77: An overwhelming performance
Kyle Lowry paced Toronto’s starters with 13 points and DeMar DeRozan went 0 of 8 from the field and finished with eight points.
“We just tried to make it tough,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to make him work and I thought we did that on both ends tonight.”The last time DeRozan did not hit a field goal was in a January 2015 game against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
…Raptors coach Dwane Casey said his team has to shake off the lopsided defeat.
“We did it from Game 1 to Game 2, so it’s possible,” Casey said. “We have to make sure we pass the basketball. We went from 24 assists to whatever we had tonight (11).
“We have to sell the guys on the fact that you have to move the basketball. You’re not going to dribble around them. You’re not going to outrun or outquick them. The ball can beat speed and quickness. That’s what we did in Game 2 and that’s what we’ve got to get back to.”
Casey said the Bucks did not use a different strategy against DeRozan.
“They blitzed some of his pick-and-rolls, not all of them,” Casey said. “I’ve got to do a better job of finding him openings and spaces so he can vault up and use his scoring ability.”
In the last Rival Watch after Game 2 we linked to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, an algorithm that calculated the Raptors had a 70 per cent chance to win the series. Now? According to BPI it’s a coin flip.
Lastly, as you can imagine, the Twitterverse had plenty to say as well (though the message was pretty much the same across the board):