Game One of the NBA playoffs hasn’t been friendly to the Toronto Raptors All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and things didn’t go any better this year against the underdog Milwaukee Bucks in the usually friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre. The duo stopped scoring heading into the final frame and the Bucks walked off with the 97-83 win. This is the fourth opening playoff series in a row the Raptors duo of Lowry and DeRozan have failed to win Game One at home.
“We expected it,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said about the Bucks defense. “Spacing, how we were attacking the pick and roll, we were expecting it. Couple of times they blocked a shot at the rim, but you have to expect that. Now the next time has to be in the dunker area to drop it off. All those things we didn’t execute.
“There is no excuse. I don’t know if we played hard enough to deserve to win, I thought they outplayed us. They played hard longer than we did. I thought they played with more force for longer than we did.”
Lowry shot 2-11 for just 4 points and DeRozan was 7-21 for 27 points on the night, but the pair combined to score just 1 point in the fourth quarter as the Raptors were outscored 22-13 over the final 12 minutes.
“We miss a lot of shots that we normally make,” DeRozan said. “We didn’t get over 20 (points) in the quarters in the second half. That’s not like us. We shot 36 percent. We got to understand that we can’t let that affect us.”
However, failing to score in Game One of the playoffs is nothing unusual, over the past four years. Lowry is averaging 11 points on 27.5 percent shooting and DeRozan 17.5 points on 28.8 percent from the field, significantly below their playoff averages of 18.7 points and 21.5 points respectively prior to this game.
“I have no clue,” DeRozan said about the Raptors Game One problems. “If I had an answer maybe we would have pulled it out tonight.
“We got to understand, we make it hard on ourselves.”
The Raptors found the length of the Bucks challenging, but like in prior Game Ones, it was the elevated physical play and loose playoff whistle that seemed to catch them off guard and that was a surprise that shouldn’t have happened considering this is the fourth time they’ve been thru this.
“I thought the guys did a really good job of using their length,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “I thought they competed. I thought (rookie) Thon (Maker) made some great plays there in the third quarter, blocking shots when Lowry got to the basket or DeRozan got to the basket.
“I thought Moose (Greg Monroe) did a great job too in the pick and roll, knowing they were going to put him in the pick and roll and he was up for it this evening.”
The Bucks did compete and outplay their hosts in three of the four quarters. With two rookies in Kidd’s starting lineup, that shouldn’t have happened and shouldn’t be repeated in Game Two on Tuesday night in Toronto.
“They did everything we expected and they did it well,” P.J. Tucker said. “We missed shots and gave them a bunch of fast break points. We already knew that’s what they thrive at. We didn’t get back on defense and that turned into them getting a win.”
The NBA playoffs are underway, but for the fourth season in a row, the Raptors didn’t hear the starting gun and dug themselves yet another hole to climb out of.
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo 28 points, Malcom Brogdon 16 points.
Raptors: DeRozan 27 points, Serge Ibaka 19 points.
Bucks bench outscored the Raptors bench 28-19.