Holly MacKenzie – Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
DeMar DeRozan hit a pair of free throws to put Toronto ahead by 11 with 46.1 seconds remaining. The free throws capped a 33-point effort from DeRozan and clinched an 87-76 Game 4 victory for the Raptors to tie the series at 2-2.
SHUFFLING THE STARTERS
Dwane Casey switched up the starting lineup in Game 4, replacing Jonas Valanciunas with Norman Powell. It was Powell’s first start of the postseason as he joined DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in the starting five.
AN EVEN START
After Game 3’s lopsided first quarter and 27-point deficit at the half, the Raptors were determined to get off to a different start on Saturday. Thanks to a strong defensive effort to open the game, the Bucks shot just 35 percent in the first quarter while Toronto shot 40 percent. The two teams were tied at 19 after the opening 12 minutes as DeMar DeRozan was aggressive early, leading the Raptors in the first quarter with six points on 3-for-4 field goals after being held scoreless from the floor in that Game 3 loss. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with seven points.
GRINDING IT OUT IN THE SECOND
Toronto’s field goal percentage dropped in the second quarter, as Raptors players not named DeMar DeRozan shot just 2-for-12 and the team shot 32 percent. Luckily for Toronto, DeRozan continued to roll, leading the Raptors with a 15-point quarter, shooting 5-for-10 from the floor while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting to lead the Bucks in a quarter where Milwaukee made 10-of-19 field goals. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, but Toronto made up the difference at the free throw line where they were 8-for-9 on free throws compared to the Bucks who made their two free throw attempts in the quarter. The second quarter was a back-and-forth contest with three lead changes and seven ties and the Bucks led by seven after a thrilling dunk from Antetokounmpo midway though the quarter. With the Bucks ahead by seven, Toronto closed the half on a 15-8 run to tie things up at 41 at the break.
SLOWLY PULLING AWAY
After a quiet first half, Kyle Lowry came out in the third ready to put numbers on the board. Lowry scored eight points in the quarter, making all three of his field goals as the Raptors outscored Milwaukee 23-17, holding the Bucks to just 30 percent shooting (6-for-20 field goals). After making just one 3-pointer in the first half, Toronto connected on three in the third while also outscoring Milwaukee 10-2 on points in the paint. The Bucks were led by Tony Snell’s eight points as Giannis Antetokounmpo was held scoreless from the floor in the quarter, his lone point coming at the free throw line. DeMar DeRozan added another six points as he led all scorers through three quarters with 27 points. Toronto went into the fourth ahead by six, leading 64-58.
CLOSING IT OUT
Toronto continued to control the pace in the fourth, working on defence to limit the Bucks to just 18 points on 32 percent shooting. The Raptors shot 47 percent in the fourth as Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas each scored six points, Valanciunas coming off the bench to make all three of his field goal attempts. P.J. Tucker and Norman Powell each played the entire fourth, with Powell drilling a 3-pointer with four minutes remaining to give Toronto its first double-digit lead. With the Bucks struggling offensively, the Raptors helped force Milwaukee into seven turnovers in the fourth, scoring eight points off their miscues as they used a balanced scoring quarter and strong defensive effort to pull away with the win and tie the series at two games apiece.
RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 33 points in 40 minutes. One game after being held scoreless from the floor on 0-for-8 shooting, DeRozan erupted for 33 points on 12-for-22 field goals, including 9-for-9 free throws. It wasn’t just the scoring, though. DeRozan led the team with a team-high nine rebounds as well as a team-high five assists to go with four steals as he played an all-around game and helped find his teammates for open looks. The Raptors were a + 15 with DeRozan on the floor.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Norman Powell received his first start of the postseason with the team trailing 2-1 in the series and he came up big on both ends of the floor. Powell scored 12 points in 34 minutes on 3-for-7 field goals, including a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. Powell added four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot, his impact seeming to increase as the game clock ticked down.
THAT’S A RAP…
“We came out extremely aggressive on both ends out the gate. We had to. Last game was eating away at us and we were just trying to get out there and redeem ourselves.”– DeMar DeRozan on the difference between Game 3 and Game 4
BY THE #’S
41…Percent shooting for Toronto, 37 percent for Milwaukee.
21…Turnovers for the Bucks, 13 for the Raptors.
20…The Raptors held the Bucks below 20 points in three of four quarters.
12…Points on 5-for-5 field goals to go with five rebounds and a steal for Jonas Valanciunas in 22 minutes off the bench.
THEY SAID IT…
“I’ve always said that we play better with our backs against the wall. It’s a tough way to live, but I love our team’s resilient personality. I wish we wouldn’t have to have a stinker before we played that way, but if we can consistently get everybody at their potential level I think we’ll be in good shape. But, tonight, DeMar [DeRozan] had a huge bounce back night. I thought [Norman Powell] stepped in and carried his load. P.J. [Tucker] did an excellent job on [Giannis] Antetokounmpo.”
– Dwane Casey on a hard-fought victory
“I think our patience became a lot better over the years, of understanding, collecting our thoughts. The time will come where we get back out there on that court, but try not to go crazy in two days of waiting. Just being patient, being mature with the process and trying to keep him [Kyle Lowry] calm. It’s still a challenge, but we figured it out.”
– DeMar DeRozan on previous playoff experience helping the team to rebound from a poor Game 3 effort
“My guy [DeMar DeRozan] is always going to keep me calm. He’s been an unbelievable friend since we’ve been together. I always think about what should of happened, could of happened. It sometimes gets to me. I don’t sleep well. He’s always the guy that says, ‘Look, everything happens for a reason.’ We’ve understood that.”
– Kyle Lowry on DeMar DeRozan
“It’s about making an impact. Bringing energy, bringing something that we need. Going over the film of last game, seeing where we struggled a little bit. They’re throwing me in to provide something with defensive toughness, energy and pace. It was a big game for me to come out and show them they can throw me in there whenever, and whatever happens in Game 5, I’ll be ready for it whether it’s coming off the bench or starting.”
– Norman Powell on being moved into the starting lineup
The series will return to Toronto for Game 5 at the Air Canada Centre on Monday at 7 P.M. ET.