Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Analyzing the Toronto Raptors Game Three Disaster

The Toronto Raptors game three disaster resulted in a 104-77 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. What on earth went so wrong for Toronto?

From Last Word on Pro Basketball, by Josh Weinstein

The Bucks 104-77 domination in Game 3 Thursday night was downright embarrassing for the third-seeded Raptors.

Analyzing the Toronto Raptors Game Three Disaster

Many of the Raptors players shared similar sentiments following the loss. Kyle Lowry told reporters, “We got our [expletive] busted.”

P.J. Tucker was more descriptive of what exactly went wrong.

“They came out and did what they wanted. They came out and blitzed DeRozan, blitzed Kyle, got it out of their hands. We didn’t make quick decisions off the ball. We didn’t cut. We didn’t get to open shots. We just sat them back and let them do what they wanted to do.”

He also added vulgarities. No need to rewrite them, you get the point.

Not only was the team disheartened, but so too were members of the Raptors’ faithful, left scratching their heads, watching their team resemble a D-league team rather than a playoff contender. The Raps’ put up just 12 points in the first quarter and went into halftime with just 30. They were down 27 at the break.

The Raptors Offensive Struggles

When Toronto’s backcourt got the ball, Milwaukee swarmed them with air-tight defence, forcing them into uncomfortable situations all game. Milwaukee’s ease in switching defensive assignments paid off, as the team’s abundance of lengthy, aggressive defenders wreaked havoc from the opening tip. Their defensive intensity impacted DeMar DeRozan most.

DeRozan played the worst playoff game of his career, failing to convert on a single field goal attempt (0 for 8) while scoring all eight of his points from the charity stripe. The Bucks combination of Tony Snell and Khris Middleton neutralized his drive-heavy, mid-range game in the 31 minutes he played. When the defence swarmed, DeRozan had trouble getting his teammates involved too, finishing with a glaring zero in the assist column.

It’s unfair to pin all the blame on DeRozan though.

Lowry also struggled, finishing tied for a team-high with 13 points. A combined 21 points from your top two scorers isn’t enough to keep your team afloat in the playoffs against any opponent.

Aside from Toronto’s backcourt, the team returned to its trademark isolation-heavy offence highlighted by minimal ball movement. Toronto finished with 11 assists, which makes it challenging to create good looks from both the interior and perimeter. Team-oriented play directly correlates with getting higher-percentage shots (as was the case for the Raptors in Game 2 when they shot 48 percent from deep). Comparing Toronto’s field goal and three-point percentages from Game 2 to Game 3 is proof of that.

Raptors Head Coach Dwane Casey told media that the team will try and get back to moving the ball the way they did in Game 2. “It’s moving the basketball. The basketball will find the right person and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

The Bucks Found Too Many Passing Lanes

Toronto looked lost on the defensive end.

With his shot off, rookie sensation Malcolm Brogdon utilized his court vision, dishing out nine of Milwaukee’s 29 assists on the night. Brogdon encapsulated the Bucks pass-heavy offence that resulted in 52 percent shooting on threes and 53 percent overall. Milwaukee was aided by Toronto’s lack of physicality. That could have been the result of devoting too much attention towards stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Despite Toronto’s efforts, the “Greek Freak” was getting freaky. That’s quickly becoming the standard for the 22-year-old superstar. In Game 2, the Raptors limited Antetokounmpo to 24 points on 24 shots. A different animal showed up for Game 3, with the Freak scoring 19 on just 10 shots. Antetokounmpo missed five of eight free throws, meaning he could have reached his Game 2 point total on 14 less shots.

Everything fell apart for Toronto at the Bradley Center, with the Raptors underperforming from the get-go. For Raps’ fans, Game 3 felt like a never-ending nightmare.

While Raps’ fans are stressing, Milwaukee’s playoff-hungry fans couldn’t be happier. Their team is up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. The Bucks are in the driver’s seat, with the Raptors in their rearview.

How Should the Raptors Adjust for Game 4?

After such an awful outing you know the Raptors will make adjustments to try and jumpstart the team on both ends.

Norman Powell played admirably, scoring 12 off the bench and getting to the free throw line twice in just under 15 minutes. Powell’s aggression is what the Raptors sorely lacked in Game 3. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Casey insert Powell into the starting five, especially after the current unit got completely overwhelmed in the first quarter. DeMarre Carroll would be the most likely candidate to swap places with Powell.

P.J. Tucker could swap in with Carroll, but that wouldn’t address the Raptors need for improved offensive output.

Another player that could benefit from moving to the bench is Jonas Valanciunas. Given how he’s been a non-factor for most of the series, Casey should consider moving the offensive-oriented big man to the bench. The prospect of Valanciunas leading a Raptors bench unit could be troublesome for the Bucks.

Moving Valanciunas to the bench would slot the versatile Serge Ibaka in at centre, which would free up a starting power forward spot for one of Toronto’s stretch bigs (Patrick Patterson most likely).

Casey will shake up the starting rotation with the biggest game of the season looming Saturday, especially since his job will be on the line if the Raptors fail to make it past the first round.

Main Photo


More Posts

Send Us A Message