Welcome to playoff basketball, where consistency is a lost art. That was certainly the story regarding the Milwaukee Bucks during their home stand for the playoffs. Here's a look at how Games 3 and 4 went.
The series returned to Milwaukee tied at 1 game each. Bucks fans and players alike remember the last home playoff game, an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bulls that eliminated us from the playoffs. This was different, however. There were better players, Giannis and Khris were much better. Coach Kidd has the living cheat code known as Point Giannis, and 2 young rookies that can change the game. Something else was different compared to the last playoff game in the Cream City. There was a new energy around the team. Milwaukee was loving their Bucks. Being at the game, I can tell you that love was definitely in the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday.
The Bucks annihilated the Raptors 104-77 behind a sell-out crowd on Thursday to take a 2-1 series lead. The red-hot offense combined with the stifling defense to crush Toronto. Greg Monroe once again had a great game, and he is proving to be an X-Factor in the series. His footwork in the paint is something the Raptors have not yet figured out, and he is becoming more aggressive on defense. Tony Snell helped DeMar Derozan make 0 field goals in the game. Snell is also an X-Factor. His deadly shooting has bailed the Bucks out many times in this series while his defense gets into the head of the opponents. Speaking of making the opponents mad, Playoff Delly has arrived in full force. This is bad news for Kyle Lowry.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Game 4 in Milwaukee was the most physical game I have seen in a while. This looked less like a playoff game and more like a football rivalry. This didn't seem to affect DeRozan, who went off for 33 points. The Bucks looked surprised that Toronto's more athletic starting lineup (they started Powell and brought Valanciunas off the bench) were playing with that level of physicality.
The Bucks shot themselves in the foot with their turnovers. Giving the ball away 21 times in a game is not winning basketball. The team tried to do way too much once they were behind. Giannis was playing way too fast, and the team couldn't get decent separation. It doesn't help that the officiating was inconsistent between the two teams. Once the 3rd quarter started, the Bucks stopped getting calls they should have gotten. However, the refs did not force the Bucks to turn the ball over 21 times, or miss shots they should make easily.
Game 5 is in Toronto on Monday night. With the series tied at 2-2, the Raptors now have the home-court advantage back. After Game 4 it's understandably difficult to see the Bucks win another game, let alone win the series. However, don't let Game 4 make you a total pessimist. That was 1 game out of 4. The other 3 games the Bucks have played have been great. I don't see a repeat of Game 4 happening. The Bucks may not win another game, but they won't lose like that. The athleticism of the Bucks is a lot for the Raptors to handle. I don't see any more easy games for either team.