The Toronto Raptors are in Milwaukee to take on the Bucks in Game 3 of their first round series. After a thrilling 106-100 Game 2 victory on Tuesday, the series is tied at one game apiece and both teams are eager to take a series lead when the game tips off on Thursday night.
Tip-off: 8:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: NBA TV, TSN / SN590
Heading into Game 2, the Raptors were concerned with their defensive efforts in transition. After allowing Giannis Antetokounmpo multiple dunks in the open floor, getting back on defence was one of the top priorities in Tuesday’s game. Although Antetokounmpo still had an incredible stat line, finishing with 24 points to go with 15 rebounds, seven assists and two steals, he shot 9-for-24 after a 13-for-18 performance in Game 1. Despite Antetokounmpo’s superstar line, Dwane Casey noted the defensive improvements from his team in Game 2.
“We went from 18 to 11 dunks or layups for their team,” he said. “We did a better job. Again, you’re not going to stop a superstar this time of year. We want to slow him down. It’s not one guy. It’s a team effort. We want to continue to take his numbers down as much as we can. He’s a great player. He’s making threes. That’s something we’ve got to make sure we understand, and not let someone else have a big night.”
P.J. Tucker was also pleased with the team’s improvements on Tuesday, but stressed that there are more corrections to be made moving forward.
“We still can do a lot better work,” Tucker said. “We gave up a lot of easy buckets still. We cut down transition a lot but we still wanna cut it down some more, so it’s still a work in progress.
“We feel like we got better the second game,” he continued. “Personally, I felt like that. But we broke it down even more from the first game to the second game, now going into the third game, especially dissecting plays, how we wanna cover certain things. They made adjustments, so now we make adjustments to get better at it.”
With the series tied at 1-1 and the Bucks now on their home floor, the Raptors know they need to expect a spirited effort from Milwaukee when the game tips off on Thursday night.
“A dog fight,” P.J. Tucker said. “That’s all we talked about today. They’re gonna come out hard. They won home-court advantage by winning one here, so now we gotta get it back, and they’re gonna do everything not to give us one. This third game is gonna be a game and we gotta come out like we’re going into a fight.”
One benefit of having an experienced locker room is a group of guys who generally understand the rhythm of the playoffs and the intensity that is needed. Dwane Casey and the coaching staff have talked with the team about the need to be ready for the push the Bucks will make on their home floor.
“We have an older group,” Casey said. “Like I told the guys, it’s not going to be a picnic and if anybody’s looking for a picnic they’re in for the wrong type of party. It’s going to be a battle, a war and we’ve got to go in with that mentality. The only friends they’re going to have is the guys in the film room earlier.”
Congrats to Raptors 905 and Coach Stack
The NBA announced on Wednesday that Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse had been named winner of the Dennis Johnson trophy as NBA D-League Coach of the Year for the 2016-17 season. On Wednesday night, the 905 advanced to the D-League finals. Although Dwane Casey has his focus firmly on the Bucks and the series at hand, he was pleased for Stackhouse. After playing Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl in Game 2, as well as getting meaningful contributions from rookies Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet during the season, Casey pointed to the job the Raptors 905 staff has done with the players the team has sent down on assignment.
“He did a great job with that team, growing that team, developing that team,” Casey said. “I saw [Ed] Tavares got defensive player of the year, that was huge. And I thought our guys that went down, Freddy [VanVleet] and [Pascal] Siakam and those guys, did a great job going down there and playing, Bruno [Caboclo, too]. That’s what it’s all about -not only to develop the players but to develop the coaches and that’s what the D-League was initially put in for. Whether it’s staff, coaches, players, it’s all about development and Stack did a great job with the team down there.”