Toronto Raptors Fight Back to Nod Up Series at 1-1
The annual Toronto Raptors roller coaster of emotion is upon us yet again. Did we expect anything less from a Toronto sporting franchise?
On Tuesday night, behind a clutch fadeaway from Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors were able to escape with a 106-100 win against the Bucks in Game 2, tying up the series 1-1. While the Raptors still played tense more often than most would probably have liked, the Raptors were able to break through and will hopefully carry this momentum over to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4.
The concerns that arose after Game 1 have been temporarily put on hold, starting with Lowry. After a brutal start to his playoffs, Lowry was a completely different player, dropping 22-points on 50% shooting, while dictating the tempo of the game and getting his teammates involved. DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka were just as good for the Raptors who received an extra push of adrenaline from their bench in what was a conservative team effort.
“That’s just who he is. He’s a competitor. He’s a fighter,” said Dwane Casey on Lowry’s performance after the game. “We just can’t panic every time a guy has a rough night.”
A big aspect of the bounce back performance by the Raptors as a whole was their three-point shooting coming to life. Led by Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph the Raptors hit a franchise playoff record 14 three-pointers on 48% shooting from long range.
Moving forward, the Raptors will need to bring more toughness and more consistency to their game. It will be important for them to of course stay loose, but defensively it will be just as important for them to make things uncomfortable for Giannis Antetokounmpo. ‘The Greek Freak’ has had far too much room with which to operate and the to be frank, the Raptors have played him too soft to this point. The Raptors must deliver the metaphorical first punch when they come out on the road. By that, they must play more physically and make Giannis feel uncomfortable. When competing against a player as great as Antetokounmpo, sometimes making him feel uncomfortable is the best form of defense.
The playoffs are just getting started and the Raptors are only beginning to get a taste of what their latest run is going to be like. It will be up to them to take advantage of this opportunity. On paper and on talent alone, the Raptors should not have too many issues against the Bucks, but to this point, the Bucks have been pouring in the most fight. Sometimes the shot isn’t falling, but to be out hustled is inexcusable.
Playoff basketball, don’t you love it?
One thing can be guaranteed and that is that by the end of the series, all Raptor fans will undoubtedly remember how to spell ‘Antetokounmpo’.