Raptors 120, Bucks 102: Last word

TORONTO | The Toronto Raptors evened the series at 2-2 with a 120-102 blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 Tuesday night.

Player of the game: Kyle Lowry

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There is no denying how huge the Raptors’ bench was in the game, but Lowry is the one that got Toronto going. He finished with 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Play of the game: Kawhi Leonard dunks on Giannis

Kawhi Leonard has arguably been the best player in the playoffs this year. He is one of the best two-way players in the NBA and is proving that in this series. Leonard was able to get a dunk on Giannis as well.

The good: Khris Middleton

If it wasn’t for Middleton, the Bucks may have lost by 50. He did his best to keep Milwaukee in the game, especially in the second quarter. Middleton finished with a game-high 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He was active on defense and did a good job guarding Kawhi Leonard.

Middleton was lights out from the field as well. He was 11-15 overall and 4-7 from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, nobody else matched his play.

The not so good: Where do I start?

Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a nice show for Bucks fans early on. He helped the Bucks open up a 12-5 lead, but it was all downhill from there. Giannis looked similar to what we saw in Game 3 for the final three quarters. Eric Bledsoe continued to struggle as well. Head coach Mike Budenholzer went to George Hill in favor of Bledsoe at the nine minute mark of the first frame. Bledsoe played only 20 minutes on the night.

“I don’t worry about Bledsoe because I know he’s going to do his job, he’s going to come out aggressive, he’s going to find his rhythm, but at the end of the day the message to him is to stay aggressive, keep trying to go downhill, keep making the right pass and eventually it’s going to fall,” Giannis said. “He’s been doing a great job just being a leader, talking to everybody and just trying to impact the game as much as he can, in any area he can.”

The defense was the most concerning aspect of the night. It was their worst effort in this series. When the Bucks aren’t shooting well, they count on their defense to keep them in games, but it wasn’t there in Game 4.

“We didn’t really take away one thing from them,” Middleton said. “For the most part, they got anything they wanted, from the paint to the blocks to the midrange to the threes, and I feel like we just didn’t take away one thing tonight defensively. So we’ve just got to be better.”

The weird: Drake

Drake is not a normal fan.

Stat of the game: 48 points from the Raptors bench

Coming into the series, the thought was that the Bucks had the edge in bench play but that wasn’t the case Tuesday night. Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet combined for 48 points off the bench for the Raptors.

Milwaukee’s bench only mustered 23 points. They were outplayed for the entire game. Malcolm Brogdon had trouble finding his shot, leaving many short on a four-point 2-11 night. George Hill finished with five points but only attempted two shots. Ersan Ilyasova scored seven points and Pat Connaughton finished with three points.

The showcase matchup is Giannis vs Kawhi, but it has been the benches that have made the impact on this series.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the loss…

I think this is probably the first night defensively where I don’t feel like we were close to where you need to be to give ourselves a chance. So credit to Toronto. They obviously played well, had a lot of guys step up and play well. Their bench was very good.

Mirotic on Game 5…

Nobody said it was going to be easy…We need to go back to Milwaukee and do what they did to us.

Nurse on the bench production…

I always say this, that I want them to come in and hold their own defensively and execute the defensive schemes, and I just didn’t see many problems there. You know, they were able to guard a bunch of different people. Two of those three guys, Norm and Serge, ended up on Giannis quite a bit. So chipping in there is good. Serge was great on the glass. And I thought both Fred and Norm give us — Fred gives us some play calling, some organization, but they both give us some dribble penetration and then some shooting too. So it’s important that those guys are out there to be able to catch the pass off the double-teams, space, and if they rush out to them, they can get back into the paint and make the next play as well.

What’s next?

The Bucks (2-2) will look to their home-court to help win Game 5 over the Raptors (2-2) on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.

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