"Our second half was just abysmal", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
Hired help: The Raptors have the better support crew, with a big man duo of Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas expected to be very hard to handle. Ibaka filled the gaping need for an elite power forward.
SN: How do the crowds in Toronto compare to the best in-arena atmospheres from around the league?
The Toronto Raptors have four key players entering free agency this summer and the biggest of them all is starting point guard Kyle Lowry. An Ibaka-Patrick Patterson frontcourt pairing showed promise in short minutes, but that lineup was hamstrung by not featuring the rest of the Raps' best players.
Toronto was the only Eastern Conference team to demonstrate any measure of success against the Cavaliers in last year's playoffs, pushing Cleveland to a sixth game by wining twice on their own home floor.
"They just outplayed us tonight and I didn't play well enough", Lowry said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 97-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the opener of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series on Saturday. But the electric Toronto backcourt slipped early in the playoffs last season, nearly costing them a First Round win.
The postseason began the same way for the Raps the past three years.
After shooting 3 for 13 in a Game 1 loss to Miami in the second round last spring, Lowry stayed past midnight at Air Canada Centre, shooting alone on the court.
Tucker was finally in the post-season after so many years toiling for bad teams.
Leafs defenceman Zaitsev out for opening game of playoff series against Capitals
He went to Joe Louis Arena to watch the Detroit Red Wings play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round. When the Raptors made it to the playoffs, it forced Pearl Jam, who were playing two nights at the arena, to move their date.
In 2014-15, the Bucks were a.500 team that lost a first-round playoff series in six games to the Chicago Bulls. "He reminds me so much of a young Magic Johnson as far as his length, his size, the way he can pass the ball and Lord forbid he gets consistent on his jump shots".
The Bucks are +4000 to win the East.
It will be Tucker's first National Basketball Association playoff appearance, an opportunity to see why many experts describe him with words like "sandpaper". He averaged 14.9 points. The MVP award will most likely go to one of those three, but one can't ignore the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo's name deserves to at least be mentioned.
When DeRozan can't connect in the midrange, the drain it puts on Toronto's offense is substantial. That said, it's an interesting approach that could help the Raptors quickly close out the Bucks in this series. Milwaukee is ranked #20 in points per game and are #13 in offensive rating.
Now Lowry will try to resume an all-star level of play with just four games under his belt after wrist surgery. "Everybody builds it up so much, but for me, honestly, I've been playing so long it just seems normal", Tucker said. "You keep playing that way, it's always going to bite you in the behind and that's what happened to us tonight". "We have to understand that we can't let that affect us getting back in transition".
Toronto is coming off a hot end to their season, winning 10 of their last 12. "I think two or three years ago he would've minded that".
Both players landed spots on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and led Toronto to a 51-31 record. Round 2 could feature a Raptors-Cavaliers showdown.
"The playoff (chase) was too much pressure for us", Jokic said Thursday after the team missed the postseason for a fourth straight season.
Later, Maker changed the game with two huge rejections on Toronto's all-stars to start the third quarter, a frame that the Bucks dominated after Toronto mastery in the second quarter. I think [the trades] were huge for Toronto. While the Greek Freak may lead statistically in every category, they still have many risky pieces that could make them a threat to make a decent run in the playoffs.