Breakfast Special: The Raptors Missed the Surrender Memo

After a 120-102 Toronto win in a game that the Milwaukee Bucks did not play particularly poorly in, and after the Eastern Conference Finals got evened at two games apiece, and after we all collectively realized that the Bucks don’t have nearly the kind of playoff experience you need to show out and dominate at this level quite yet—not to say they’re going to lose the series, only that they look like they’re “a year away”—we have got ourselves a series.

Granted, it’s a series where the home team has so far won all four games, but when the Raptors won Game 4, “Bucks in 5” just became “if Milwaukee can’t get it done at home Thursday, this might become Raptors in 6.”

With the Western Conference Finals a complete cakewalk for the Warriors, it’s nice to know we won’t be sitting on our hands for a week waiting for the NBA Finals to start.

Speaking of playoff experience, Kawhi Leonard was efficient with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting, pulled down seven rebounds and yanked away four steals, and posted a best-of-the-starters plus-16 in his 34 minutes.

Meanwhile, a subset of the Raptors bench went wild, as Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet combined for 48 points, VanVleet went 5-of-6 from the field for his 13, and the three reserves had, respectively, a plus-29, plus-24, and plus-25 in their on-court time.

Those guys, especially VanVleet, haven’t shown up much this series, so for them to go off in Game 4 is either a happy outlier or a sign the Bucks are in serious trouble after effectively choking away the chance to go up 3-0 in the series on Sunday.

Speaking of Raptors who finally showed up, Kyle Lowry led the team with 25 points on 6-of-11, making all 10 of his free throws, hitting 3-of-7 from three, and turning the ball over just once compared to his six assists.

On the Bucks’ side of the ball, Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to play good but short of great, as he had 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, 10 rebounds, five assists, but four turnovers and a lousy 6-of-10 from the free throw line.

Khris Middleton led all scorers in the game with 30 points on 11-of-15, but the rest of the Bucks just plain didn’t show up.

Nikola Mirotic (11) was the only other Bucks player in double figures for scoring, and if you take away those three guys’ combined 24-of-42 (57.1 percent), what you’re left with is an entire team that had just 36 points on 13-of-38 shooting (34.2 percent.) That’s not going to get you to the NBA Finals, not when your opponents’ bench players go beast mode.

You bet your sweet behind we’ve got the bench players on the highlight reel:

And Lowry is your man of the match:

The Warriors are sitting, resting, waiting, gathering strength, letting Arya and Gendry have a tumble in the hay…but the battle is coming. In the meantime, Pace and Space is here to keep you up to speed on the fight in the east.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!