Raptors look to bounce back from another Game 1 hole

The Raptors take Game 2 and even the series up. "It's contagious what he brings", said veteran center Greg Monroe, who comes off the bench and typically finishes games for Milwaukee.

Serge Ibaka bounced back from a poor opening half, providing rim protection on defence and a three-point threat on offence, the veteran power forward sliding over at the centre spot.

But no less so than Kyle Lowry, who struggled in just his fifth game back since wrist surgery took him out of action for 21 games. He's a competitor. He's a fighter. I just knew that he wasn't going to be satisfied the way that he played the first game. He's human, everybody has a night like that. Any time you are playing these guys, you have to contain DeRozan and Lowry.

After losing Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the annual questioning of the Toronto Raptors stole the headlines over the weekend.

The Greek Freak set the tone early with a driving dunk for the Bucks' first points of the game, and went on to have a fantastic night overall - 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.

The Raptors bought some time with Tuesday's performance. James said when asked how the Cavs would have handled a loss.

Lowry is being urged to be more aggressive.

"Honestly, I don't know why because what I saw from guys, every time before the game, everybody is ready, everybody is motivated", said Ibaka. "We balanced well tonight", he added. "For me, it was just going out there and playing".

The Raptors led 51-46 after the first half.

DeMarre Carroll scored seven points in a 13-0 Toronto run that gave the Raptors a 73-60 lead midway through the third but the Bucks answered with a 15-4 run over the next three minutes.

In Game 2 on Tuesday, Toronto got a more assertive and in-control Lowry, the point guard that was one of the best 20 players in the league during the regular season, the player who pushes them to the next level when he is right on offense. Toronto scored 83 points in Game 1, and needed Lowry to catapult the offense in Game 2. DeRozan replied with a basket.

Kyle Lowry needs to play better.

"We can run the floor on offence better, flow better", Tucker said. Play the right way, moving the ball and hitting shots, then stop doing that and turn the game into an isolation-fest.

There was a little concern going into Game 2 that Ibaka might not be up to the task, but only a little. On the other possession, the Celtics weren't even able to get a shot off, and the Bulls' forced a shot-clock turnover. "It was kind of a little tight, I wasn't 100 per cent sure if I was going to go".

"Put it this way: I guess I'm going to have to force shots", he said.

It was hard in that moment to not think about the first-round disappointments of seasons past, but the Raptors survived, buying themselves more time to find their rhythm in the postseason.

The Bucks are simply a awful matchup for the Raptors as the Bucks' size does not allow the Raptors to get much usage out of their smaller lineups nor does the Bucks' athleticism allow the Raptors to capitalize on their own "Stretch-fours".

Ibaka would finish the night with 16 points, six assists and seven rebounds while Valanciunas, almost a forgotten man in Game one would get in just under the wire with a double-double of 10 rebounds and 10 points. Have to give them credit, they did a good job defensively. Previous year they did not advance as far in the postseason as they would have liked, and they are aiming to correct that this time around.

When Antetokounmpo made a jumper with 2:38 to play, Milwaukee led by 17 points.

Like a sideshow carnival act, it seemed every member of the Toronto Raptors who took to the court wanted an up close look at Giannis Antetokounmpo and they all got one.

  • Julie Sanders