The Toronto Raptors are looking to even up their first-round series against the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday after a lopsided Game 3 loss. Milwaukee recorded a dominant 104-77 victory on Tuesday to take a 2-1 series lead. Toronto is aiming for a much different game — and result — on Saturday.
Tip-off: 3:00 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TNT, SN / SN590
Effort + physicality
It took only 12 minutes for Milwaukee to open up a 20-point lead on the Raptors in Game 3. Thanks to a first quarter where Toronto shot just 22 percent (4-for-18) while allowing Milwaukee to shoot 67 percent (14-for-21). Heading into Game 4, Toronto wants to make sure the Bucks feel them much like they did in a Game 2 Raptors win.
“In Game 2 we were physical,” Kyle Lowry said. “We were into them. We were not letting them have too much freedom. I think they had so much freedom [in Game 3]. They got some open shots. You give Giannis [Antetokounmpo] a rhythm dribble and an open look, he adjusts to it. He adjusted to the way we were playing. That’s all. It’s a game of adjustments. And we have to make another adjustment to figure it out and counter the things that they do and figure it out and go play.”
After setting the pace and tone in that Game 2 victory, Dwane Casey was disappointed that his team reverted back to things that got them in trouble in Game 1.
“Our forcefulness, our intensity was back to Game 1,” Casey said. “It wasn’t at the Game 2 level. Offensively we didn’t move the basketball. We had 24 assists in Game 2, last night we tried to beat them with the dribble. We’ve got to trust the pass. That’s one thing that we figured out offensively that we’ve got to make sure we’e got a much much better job of.”
Quick decisions needed
After holding DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to a combined 21 points in Game 3, the Raptors expect the Bucks to continue to try to keep the backcourt out of the action moving forward.
“I think their game plan is to try to take both of us out,” Lowry said. “They try to do that every single game. I think in Game 2 I got more free than they wanted me to get free. They were more aggressive [on Thursday]. DeMar, it’s the same thing. They will continue to try to take us out. We’ve been dealing with that for four years now.
A glaring difference between games 2 and 3 was Toronto’s ball movement. While the ball movement crisply in Game 2, leading to open looks, 24 assists and 14 made 3-pointers, Game 3 was a different story as the team recorded just 11 assists, connected on just six 3-pointers, and shot 34 percent in the game.
To combat Milwaukee’s length, quicker decisions need to be made in the moment and the ball needs to move more to find the open player.
“If we’ve got open shots, we’ve got to make them,” Lowry said. “Against this team, as soon as you get an open look, you’ve got to take it. And you’ve got to make them. We didn’t make shots [in Game 3].”
DeRozan eager to get back on the court
After being held scoreless from the floor in Game 3, DeMar DeRozan is eager for Game 4 to tip off. Despite the lopsided result on Thursday, DeRozan said the team’s resolve is still strong.
“If you’re a competitor you can’t wait to get back out there and redeem yourself,” he said. “I think that’s where we’re at. That’s personally where I’m at even more so than ever just to get back out there, give ourselves another opportunity.”
DeRozan was 0-for-8 from the floor in Game 3 with all eight of his points coming at the free throw line. Having a difficult night at this point of the season is always tough. Getting back on the floor Saturday and evening up the series would be a good way to move past that Game 3 performance.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “You don’t want to go out and lose the way we did. We’ve just got to use it for motivation, man. It’s embarrassing to lose like that, especially in the postseason. To play like that on both ends, it’s on us to be able to come out this next game and tie it up.”