5 Areas the Bucks Need to Improve
When it comes to the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors series, it has been a tale of two games: The games where the Bucks control the game and play great defense and then the games where the Raptors control the game and play great defense. In all honesty, whoever wins the first quarter wins the game. That does not necessarily make for entertaining basketball. Earlier in the playoffs, it looked like the Bucks had a real chance to steal a series from the higher seated Raptor. That has all changed though. Now Milwaukee has their backs against the wall with potentially two games to go in the series. What are five areas that the Bucks need to improve on in the next two games to have a chance at winning the series?
1. A Quick Start
As earlier stated the team that has won the first quarter has won each of the games except one, but that is because that first quarter ended in a tie. Both games the Bucks won, they had a 30-22 lead and 32-12 lead in the first quarter of each respective game. If the team can get a quick start, then they have a better shot of keeping that lead during the matchup. Throughout the series, the team with the momentum has definitely won each time.
2. Limit Turnovers
There are certain factors in every basketball game that will almost always lead to victory and winning the turnover battle is one of them. The Bucks in Game 1 had 5 turnovers compared to the Raptors 10 turnovers. Meaning that the turnover ratio was 1:2. That is an excellent way to win a game. Milwaukee’s second win in the series had a bit closer turnover ratio. The Raptors had 15 turnovers and the Bucks had 13. A good idea is to keep as far under 10 turnovers a game as possible. If the Bucks can do this they will give the Raptors less opportunities to score throughout the rest of the series.
3. Limit the Raptors 3 Point Percentage
Defense is the most important part of every basketball game. If the Bucks can limit the Raptor 3-point percentage, they will definitely have a better shot at getting back in this series. Game 1 the Raptors shot 21.7% from behind the arc. The Bucks also held the Raptors to a 27.3% shooting percentage from the three-point line in Game 3. This is a lot different than two of the wins for Toronto. In Game 2 and 5, the Raptors shot a 3-point percentage of 48.3% and 44.4% respectively. Game 4 was a weird outlier that if it was not for 20 turnovers by the Bucks it might have gone a different way. Also if Milwaukee shot more than 61.1% from the free throw line that game it would have been different too. Limiting 3-point shots always gives a team a better opportunity to win.
4. Hit Free Throws
What if a team was willing to give you somewhere between 15-30 free points a game and all you had to do was make shots from 16 feet away? Not to mention, you are professional basketball players that gets paid to make these shots. Well the Bucks have not been hitting their free throws the past two games. Earlier in the series the Bucks hovered between 73.7% and 89.5% from the free point stripe. The last two games Milwaukee is shooting 59.1% from the free throw line. In total they have missed 18 free throws in 44 attempts during Game 4 and 5. That is just unacceptable, especially, when the Raptors shot 93.0% from the foul line during those two games. Jason Kidd should have the Bucks shooting foul shots all day until game time on Thursday.
5. The Big Men Need To Produce
At one point Greg Monroe was considered to be one of the up and coming bigs in the NBA. He came to Milwaukee and all of a sudden forgot how to be a dominant presence. Once in awhile you see glimpses of the star play from Monroe, but he has really struggled this series. Meanwhile, Serge Ibaka is looking like a star playing in Toronto. The key to winning is making it really difficult for Ibaka to get a rhythm. That happens on both sides of the ball. Containing the big man is key to the Bucks success. That is not only a task for Greg Monroe, but for rookie Thon Maker as well. Maker is the starting Center and needs to make his presence known. He is still young and has the potential to be a very good player, but potential can only help so much when you have a one and done game. If Maker and Monroe can average 7 rebounds each that will also help the Bucks with a chance to come back in this series.
6. Do Not Let Norman Powell Have a Career Night
Keep this in mind Norman Powell did not see one minute in Game 2 which was a win for Toronto. Like a Bat out of Hell, Norman Powell was the driving force in Toronto’s win on Monday night. Playoff heroes do not always wear capes, but Powell surely looked like he was a professional in all aspects. The issue is, Powell was a non-factor early in the series because he barely played. If Dwane Casey did not feel Powell needed more than 5 minutes during the first two games combined, he should not be leading the team in scoring in Game 5. That is a problem that the Jason Kidd and Bucks need to figure out. Powell was a scoring machine. Milwaukee needs to find out a way to stop Powell to have a shot at winning another game in this series.
Overall, the Bucks have an uphill battle ahead of them. The key is really taking one game at a time and focusing on the basics of basketball. It is always cliché to say that, but really the basics are the most important part of winning. As fans we all get caught up in the flashy plays, but just look at the San Antonio Spurs. They play a non-flashy style of basketball and have had success for years. Milwaukee has done it before and if they just read this article and follow the suggestions they can potentially pull off the upset the next two games.