A week ago at this time if Bucks fans were told they’d be headed back to Milwaukee tied with the Raptors 1-1, most people would be satisfied, if not thrilled.
However, after game one where the Bucks completely dominated the Raptors in the second half, it became apparent that Milwaukee would have a serious chance to win this series.
In turn, when the Bucks lost a thriller in game two it was a definitive letdown, as Milwaukee had plenty of chances to take a 2-0 series lead.
So what changed? Neither team played exceptionally well in game two, and the Raptors by no means appeared to be the dominant team.
Matchups and altered game plans played a huge role in Toronto’s turnaround, as they were able to get Kyle Lowry involved, and limit Giannis Antetokounmpo’s production.
In game one, Lowry managed to put up just four points, missing all six of his three point attempts. He was given plenty of scrutiny within the organization and from the media for his lack of presence in game one. There won’t be any talk of that after the dagger Lowry hit with under 10 seconds left in the game.
Lowry was much more aggressive his second time around, getting to the free throw line eight more times, and connecting on four more shots from the field. He claimed to have struggled in game one due to the constant double teams and pressure applied by the Bucks lengthy guards, but he was able to penetrate much easier in game two.
Milwaukee has continued to keep DeRozan in check, as he has failed to score over his season average in both games, including a game one performance where he shot just 33 percent from the field.
What killed the Bucks in game two, however, was the play of not just Lowry, but the rest of the role players, as the Raptors managed to hit nine more threes in game two than they did in game one.
The biggest adjustment by Toronto was their defense against the Greek Freak, who still managed to score 24 points and grab 15 rebounds with seven assists. However, Giannis had three more turnovers and shot just 9/24 from the field in game two after having just one turnover and shooting 72 percent in game one.
Toronto continues to throw a variety of looks at the Greek Freak. Between Tucker, Carroll, and a string of double teams, the Raptors still haven’t managed to shut Giannis down, but they definitely slowed down his production this time around.
Khris Middleton and Tony Snell’s shooting performances were key in keeping the Bucks alive, as they combined to shoot 7/9 from the three point line. If the Bucks want to continue to have offensive production, they will need Middleton to play like he did on Tuesday to help stretch the floor for Giannis.
The problem for Milwaukee was every other shooter on their team. Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon both missed wide open threes in crunch time, and combined to shoot just 6/21 from the field.
What game two came down to was clutch shooting. Giannis stepped up and hit a big three to tie the game at 100, but Toronto proved that its playoff experience and star power was too much for the Bucks to handle, as Lowry single-handedly put the game out of reach with his last second shot.
Overall, the Bucks should be excited to head back to Milwaukee, as they dominated game one, and continued to fight despite trailing most of the game in game two.
Moreover, it is extremely unlikely that Toronto manages to shoot the three ball as well as they did in game two. They managed to hit 14 threes despite averaging just eight makes from the three point line on the season.
Milwaukee should pride itself on how well they have limited Lowry and DeRozan from dominating the game from the free throw line, as neither player shot more than ten free throws in game two. If the Bucks can keep the Raptors from the free throw line, and defend the mid-range jump shot which players like DeRozan and Ibaka shoot so well, they will give themselves a great chance to continue winning in this series.
Looking ahead to game three on Thursday, Milwaukee’s gameplan should be similar to that of game two, as the Bucks will likely find a way to hit shots down the stretch, and can live with Toronto living or dying by the three ball.