2) Toronto Raptors
3) Milwaukee Bucks
There was a Kyle Lowry sighting after plenty of disappointing postseason games in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. he had a playoff career high of 30 points. Toronto held the lead, between 6-10 points, for three quarters in Game 1. Then the 4th quarter happened when the Milwaukee Bucks outscored the Toronto Raptors 32-17 to complete the comeback to win the game.
Keys to the game
On offense, Toronto must get production from more than three players (76 of the 100 points scored by Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam) or this will be a short series. Their depth has played a huge role in their success all year yet the rotation was significantly shortened with limited minutes. The Raptors need to attack the basket more and not rely so heavily on jump shots (42 three point attempts and only 20 free throw attempts).
On defense, the Raptors have to do a better job on the boards after getting out rebounded 68-54, including giving up 15 offensive rebounds. Although they didn’t create many turnovers, they did convert them into 20 points. Transition defense and paint protection must be a priority after the Bucks had 25 fast break points with 44 paint points.
Offensively, Milwaukee got a steady contribution from an array of players with 5 guys in double figures. They did a great job attacking the basket, hitting better than 50% of their two point attempts. The Bucks ball movement was terrific and kept Toronto’s defense off balance, resulting in 21 assists on 37 made shots.
Defensively, the Bucks were stingy around the basket getting 11 rejections. They played tough, in your face defense without fouling, only getting whistled for 16 team fouls. Milwaukee did a wonderful job hustling back on defense to limit Toronto’s fast break opportunities, only giving up 15 transition points.
The x-factors for Toronto will be Danny Green and Serge Ibaka. Green must get more involved in the offense; taking five shots is not enough. Ibaka needs to give the Raptors more than four points and four rebounds- it’s tough to play him with that kind of production.
The x-factors for Milwaukee will be George Hill and Kris Middleton. Hill needs to be more impactful on the court; going scoreless just doesn’t bode well even in a win. Middleton struggled shooting and needs to bring his best Robin act to the court every game.
Prediction-Milwaukee gets off to a much better start and lead wire to wire to take a 2-0 series lead heading to Toronto.