Young Bucks ready for Raptors at their place


With raucous fans wearing black Bucks giveaway T-shirts to match the players' uniforms, Milwaukee put on a dominating display of basketball worthy of the team's "Fear the Deer" slogan.

The Raptors have the advantages of experience and talent over the six-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has not won a playoff series since knocking off Charlotte in the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals. Khris Middleton led the way with 20 points and seven assists, while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

On the court, Antetokounmpo blossomed into the team's first All-Star since 2004, and first All-Star starter since 1986.

For those who are Milwaukee sports fans - or just otherwise dislike big-city Toronto for any reason at all - it was an entertaining in-your-face evening of sports.

That's it for today's roundup, but we'll be back to do it all again tomorrow.

Why this keeps happening to the Raptors is anyone's guess, but it does seem at least a little fitting that the league's only non-American team finds itself perpetually in an underdog role - even in scenarios in which they are, by most standards, the superior team.

The Raptors scored just 18 points in the second quarter, and finished the first half shooting a woeful 23 per cent. They would make just four of the 18 shots they would take in the first quarter. Lowry wasn't much better, with 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

The Milwaukee Bucks announced a new partnership with Delta Airlines to help get passengers in the spirit of the NBA Playoffs with the Bucks hosting the Toronto Raptors in Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4 of their First Round series this weekend.

"I think we're all excited to be home", added head coach Jason Kidd.

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More concerning then his 0-for-8 stat line was DeRozan's defense, though. For the Raptors to have their best chance of taking a 2-1 lead on Thursday, they would prefer a free-flowing, high-scoring game to a grind-it-out slugfest.

"If they try to do that, something else will open", DeMar DeRozan said on Thursday morning in advance of Game 3 in Milwaukee.

"His length is unbelievable", Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

It was Toronto's lowest playoff score since the Raptors scored 63 in Detroit in 2002.

During Game 3, that growth was evident.

Serge Ibaka finally had it when he blew his lid on a goaltending call with 2:03 remaining in the first half, the Raptors trailing by 32 points.

After coming out of the gate slow, the Raps were left playing catch-up early, but because they weren't able to swing the ball and figure out how to navigate the Bucks' effective defensive trap, they couldn't get clean looks to start stockpiling points. Middleton returned from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the season's first 50 games on February 8, the same night that Parker was lost with a season-ending left knee injury.

"The big thing is we gave him the ball and his appetite is big", Kidd said. "It's embarrassing to lose like that, especially in the post-season, to play like that on both ends". Toronto had nothing to show for its first six 3-point attempts. They managed to hit 14 threes despite averaging just eight makes from the three point line on the season. DeRozan said he expects Lowry to contribute any way he can in Game 2, even if his shots aren't falling. They're sending two guys at me every time I come off a screen.

April 18, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) dribbles the ball past Toronto Raptors guard Cory Joseph (6) in game two of the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre.