The Toronto Raptors won 50 games for the second straight season, overcoming major injury adversity in the second half of the season to secure home-court advantage in their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks (at least until they lost Game 1).
First up were the Raptors - back in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row - facing off against the MilwaukeeBucks in game one of the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs at the Air Canada Centre.
The Greek Freak had plenty of the Raptors' attention the day after he orchestrated a Game 1 win for the Bucks, but he was not the only member of the Bucks to get special attention.
The Raptors kept it close in the first half.
Game 2 takes place Tuesday in Toronto, before the series shifts to Milwaukee on Thursday and Saturday.
"I think that's just kind of our problem".
Tucker said he didn't play at all like a rookie.
The second half would begin eerily similar to how the night would begin, the Raptors having no answer for Antetokounmpo, no response when Maker blocked shots, slow in transition and completely inert overall. Utah is in the postseason for the first time in five years. "I've always said it's a hard way to live". You've got to give them credit for doing a good job defensively. "I thought they played hard longer than we did".
"Any time you win it feels good, especially against a good team, a playoff-tested team", Monroe said. "It's tough because when we miss shots they get it out and they find him and he takes off", Tucker said. Look for Lowry to have a much better effort and for them to get more production from their bench.
"Put it this way: I guess I'm going to have to force shots", he said. "Every shot I took was contested or ran off. but I gotta be more aggressive".
Giannis's 28 points were the most from a Buck in a playoff game since Michael Redd's 40 points against the Detroit Pistons back in 2006. He also helped a lot with the Bucks' spacing and was a reason behind Milwaukee getting cleaner looks in the third quarter.
He added 6 points and more than one assist per game to his prior career averages, earning an All-Star nod along the way.
The Raptors were well aware of Antetokounmpo's potential impact on the series heading into Saturday. They out-physicaled us, they out-screened us in every area that you could possibly talk about and that's what we showed the guys on film this morning. You've got to start it up and sit there for a while before you pull off and you go on a little road trip. "So I think for us we're going to have to dig our heads in the dirt and get dirty". Our philosophy here from Day 1 is never to go to the offensive boards.
"But once you get going, your auto feels like a 2016 Lexus or something". Ibaka and Carroll play a physical style on defense, but both lack the foot speed to stay in front of Antetokounmpo in transition and in isolation matchups.
The Toronto Raptors are now in the midst of almost 72 hours off between Saturday's 97-83 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks and Tuesday's opportunity to avenge it. "We did it in some parts of the game, but not long enough". "In the second half after the All-Star break, we played great basketball, team basketball".