Raptors drop playoff opener against Milwaukee
The upcoming series will be Milwaukee's first postseason meeting with the Raptors, who had been one of just two Eastern Conference foes the Bucks had never met in the playoffs (Cleveland is the other). The Bucks are just 1-3 against the Raptors this season, but they did the most recent matchup in March.
After missing the final game of the regular season with an illness, DeMar DeRozan is expected to be ready for Saturday's game. Then Milwaukee has the emergence of a great player who really does it all.
It's going to be a challenge.
Masai Ujiri could hear a loud, fiery conversation outside his office this week as the Toronto Raptors prepared for the National Basketball Association playoffs. They also went out and got another defensive-minded player in P.J.
Just like James, Antetokounmpo gets his points in a myriad of ways. They've been in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively, but their performance in the clutch is what's taken them over the hump.
Round 1 Preview ft.
Gobert is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate for the Jazz, and now gets to make his playoff debut.
"They play hard, they will play up and down, they know what they want to do and they stick with their game plan", Lowry said of Milwaukee. "I haven't thought anything about that".
Even more, the Nuggets found the centerpiece to build around in Jokic, who recorded six triple-doubles. Antetokounmpo, who was born in Athens to parents who came to Greece from Nigeria, took his time in the locker-room - with ice bags on each knee and his feet in a tub of ice.
Milwaukee's defense will have all sorts of trouble slowing down the Raptors' offense - no matter what they try. He's not a guy that needs the ball in his hands. He plays a man's game, an old-school game. "Everybody builds it up so much, but for me, honestly, I've been playing so long it just seems normal", Tucker said. Antetokounmpo led his team in every major category and is one of the only players in National Basketball Association history to do so. What does that say about the growth of the game internationally? He's only getting better, and the Bucks need him to get better right now.
SN: There are five Canadians in the playoffs. "DeRozan and Lowry, those guys have been together for some time and they've been through the process". If you have watched the Bucks this season, however, he's undoubtedly been a different player in year two.
GH: I think Vince Carter was a big part of that. The Raptors enter the playoffs with plenty of momentum as they won 13 of their last 16 games including their last four straight heading into the playoffs. Him going on to win back-to-back MVPs was big.
"We've already talked about the atmosphere in Toronto", Kidd said. Lowry shot 2-for-11 on Saturday, and DeRozan wasn't much better, connecting on only seven of his 21 field goal attempts. What's your perspective on a potential rematch? "It's insane. I'm in my first year, now the playoffs, it's kind of like a Cinderella story, but I can't see it that way". "We moved the ball real well".
This year they've struggled.
There was no switch flipped.
After a sterling regular season, fans across the league likely can't wait to see what Giannis Antetokounmpo with the playoff spotlight on him. It now has playoff experience, and management has gambled with two trades because it believes this version of the Raptors could get back to the East final and have a fighting chance in it.
The Bucks (42-40) finished sixth in the Eastern Conference. DeRozan and Lowry are enjoying their most efficient seasons of their careers and are primed to take this franchise to the next level. How do you see it playing out?
"We feel good about ourselves", Antetokounmpo said. It's very tough for me to leave. His profile has grown off the court there and become a star. "I became a better player", Mudiay said.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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