The Milwaukee Bucks were looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead this weekend when they played the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Unfortunately, the Raptors bounced back and defeated Jason Kidd’s crew, 87-76, tying the series at two and taking it back to Toronto.
The Bucks won Game 3 when Raptors star DeMar DeRozan finished with only eight points. On Saturday, the roles reversed, as Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored only 14 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
“For Giannis, I thought he was looking to try and pick the team up. He can see that guys weren’t making shots so he thought he could do it. That’s what the great players do,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “Unfortunately, he couldn’t make a shot either.”
After the Bucks shut him down in his last outing, DeRozan had a big bounce back game. He shot 12-of-22 from the field and led all players in scoring with 33 points.
“In that first half, DeRozan was the only one scoring for them,” Kidd said. “We knew that coming in he was going to have a better game than in Game 3.”
The Raptors controlled the tempo the entire game, slowing the ball down and not allowing the Bucks to speed up the pace by forcing them into 21 turnovers.
“Our tempo was extremely slow. Give them credit; they slowed us down. It wasn’t a high-scoring game. No one could make a shot. But our tempo in that second half came to a halt,” Jason said. “Our energy level was low, for whatever reason. We’ve got to fix that going into Game 5. Just understanding there are some things we’ve got to clean up, but we had an opportunity. But when you turn the ball over 20-plus times, it’s hard to have a pace. We’ve got to look at our turnovers and do a better job on that end of the floor with the ball.”
Tony Snell was the leading scorer for the Bucks and the only player to make a 3-point field goal. He finished with 19 points.
Greg Monroe had another solid performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds off the bench.
“I thought he was great. He comes off the bench for us and gives us a spark offensively and defensively,” J-Kidd said. “He’s been great for us all season and we need him to do that in Game 5.”
The Raptors made a big lineup change for Game 4, moving Jonas Valanciunas to the bench and Norman Powell to the starting lineup.
“We expected there could be a change coming, going to a smaller lineup and putting (Serge) Ibaka at the 5,” Kidd said. “Maybe it helped them. Valanciunas was good off the bench for them. They were able to get their hands on balls and steals. We’ve got to be tougher with the ball. This was a physical game. The referees were letting the players play.”
The Bucks and Raptors will play the pivotal Game 5 on Monday night. If the Bucks are going to win, they must find a way to hold onto the ball, speed up the pace and make more outside shots.
“We talked about staying in character. This is a great game for our group to understand we got to stay in character and keep moving the ball,” Kidd said, “We weren’t passing the ball due to turnovers, but we’ve got to move the ball and find the open guy and trust that the open guy will make the right play.”