Toronto Raptors Suffer Ugly Loss at the Hands of the Milwaukee Bucks
In what has been an otherwise fantastic start to the season, the Toronto Raptors have started to show some worrying signs as of late. In particular, they have struggled in ‘step-up’ games against elite teams, particularly on the defensive end. Last night, was another example of that, as the Bucks dominated the Raptors from beginning to end on their home floor in a 105-92 victory.
The Bucks established themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference, taking a 1.5 game lead over the Raptors in the standings and winning the season series 3-1. There were no excuses for the Raptors last night. They entered the game rested, having not played since Sunday, healthy other than Valanciunas still being out, and playing at home where they had won 10 straight.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse recognized the significance of the loss and had a lot to say following the game. “I’m probably more concerned that there isn’t a little bit more solid play from our main guys than the fight,” he said. “I’m more concerned witih how we’re playing. I want to go out and play well, and I don’t think we played well tonight.”
“There’s maybe a little more time needed and chemistry. If you go though our starting five, you’d say well, Kawhi’s scoring more than ever; Pascal is playing great; Serge is having a good year…there’s a group of guys that are playing well in the context of the whole season, we just gotta make sure we keep them fired and keep them together.”
Kawhi Leonard had more to say than usual following the loss. “I was saying at the beginning of the season we still need to get better,” he said. “But it’s not about the first unit. It’s about the whole team. That’s how you win games. Everybody being connected, linked together, having the same mindset, the same goals, the same energy. You can’t have your first unit clicking have the second unit come in and play bad, or vice-versa. Or even three guys. Everybody has to be linked together.”
“It’s tough to dig out of holes,” Kyle Lowry said. “You use a lot of energy. We didn’t come up with enough fire in the second quarter. To dig out of a hole is tough. To not put ourselves in that position, we’ve got to play harder and execute a little better, play with a little more pace, be a little more physical to start halves and throughout the game.
Lowry’s All-Star nod was the lone bright spot in an otherwise gloomy night. “It means the world. It means the coaches respect what I do,” Lowry said. I go out there and do my job and play hard and try to lead my team the best I possibly can. If it wasn’t for my teammates, I wouldn’t be in this position.”
Worth noting is that Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer will coach in the All-Star game with his team securing the top record in the East, following the win over the Raptors. Milwaukee has won 19 of its last 23 games and currently holds the best record in the Association, at 37-13.
As for the Raptors, they will look to quickly bounce back on Sunday, when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.