Melt Under Pressure

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Toronto Raptors Slip Up, Lose Composure in Second Half in Loss to Bucks

It was a hard fought affair in which the Toronto Raptors came out on the losing side.

Tuesday night wasn’t just another regular season game despite what the players may say during frantic media scrums. You could sense the playoff atmosphere in the air – both teams wanted to win and both teams understood the gravity of the moment.

Of course, both the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks are locks for the postseason – the Bucks especially as they very recently set a new NBA mark for the shortest amount of games needed to clinch a playoff berth. That being said, in what is a lengthy regular season, marquee games are important for teams with their sights set on the playoffs in terms of helping build confidence and even to reveal any glaring weaknesses that may be exposed in games that truly matter.

“You always remember the last time you played here, the feelings you had,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said, who had an especially sour taste in his mouth on the night of his return to the Scotiabank Arena. “It was definitely on my mind.”

The Bucks have not been north of the border since the Game 6 elimination game which saw the Raptors clinch their first NBA Finals berth in franchise history.

“Tonight it just didn’t go in,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Serga had like 21 straight great games. You’re going to have that one once in a while and tonight wasn’t his night.”

To give the Bucks credit, they proved why they were the best defensive team in the league. They refused to give up anything easy in the paint and very clearly got under the skin of the Raptors. On the Raptors end of things, Toronto leads the league in technical fouls and in playoff games when many games go down right to the wire, composure will be absolutely crucial. It is important for the Raptors to learn to play through the whistle, and remain mature and level-headed.

“They’re good. They’re a good defensive team. They clog the paint,” said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet . “They give us those shots. Those are our shots. Sometimes you make them and sometimes you don’t.

“… All in all, we know that they’re a great defensive team. At the same time, I don’t think like anybody is thinking we didn’t get the shots we needed to get to beat them. Didn’t make enough plays, didn’t do enough. And that’s a great team, so you’ve got to play up to their level in order to get a win like that.”

From a positive lens, the Raptors defensive was yet again impressive and Toronto did a good job at containing Antetokounmpo for the majority of the night.

The Raptors still have two games left against the Bucks this season before the postseason gets going.

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