Raptors Claw Their Way Back, Tie Series 1-1
After blowing Game 1 once again, the Toronto Raptors came to play in Game 2.
In the opening minutes of the game the Raptors were more aggressive, more focused and more engaged than they had been during the entire first game of the series.
The most obvious difference from Game 1 however was seen in how the Raptors moved the ball. The offense was still run mainly through Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, however in Game 2 the primary ball handlers were more patient with the ball, passing out of double-teams at the right time and forcing less shots. The result was a more well-balanced offensive performance that found their shooters open, extra passes being made and a total of 23 more points scored than in Game 1, ultimately earning the victory for Canada’s only NBA franchise.
Defensively, the Raptors put in a great effort during the first half, but when their lead grew to double digits they became too comfortable. Perhaps it was a lack of urgency, or perhaps it is due to the fact that this team has had scarce time to play together, but there were too many miscommunications defensively – especially in transition.
DeMarre Carroll and P.J. Tucker were giving Giannis Antetokounmpo loads of room to shoot from the perimeter, but the Greek Freak wasn’t able to punish them shooting 33% from the 3-point line and 37.5% overall. Although he still put forth a great statistical line-up, Giannis did most of his damage from offensive rebounds and second-chance plays. Though, crowding the paint left a lot of room for Milwaukee’s shooters to punish them from outside, something the Raptors may need to live with.
There is still room for improvement for the Raptors going forward, however.
Dwayne Casey needs to punish Jason Kidd for playing Thon Maker. Coach Kidd has used the South Sudanese center to make life more difficult for the Raptors at the rim; however, it was made glaringly obvious in this game that Jonas Valanciunas has a huge advantage over Maker on the low block, as all four of his made field goals came in those situations. The Raptors should be running more plays for Valanciunas in the low-post when Maker is on the court, to exploit this match-up.
Defensively, the Raptors just need to keep their foot on the gas for the entire 48 mins. It is understandable that there will be miscommunications from time to time as this team is still learning to play with each other. With that being said, there were stretches in the game where they lost their intensity and looked disinterested on the defensive end. If the Raptors plan on making much noise in these playoffs, they need to keep up the intensity all game long.
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