The Milwaukee Bucks have a dangerous defensive strategy. It includes aggressive traps and constant movement from their big men. The right team, who passes efficiently and quickly, can seriously dismantle it. However, when executed correctly, it can be a nightmare for the opposing team. So far in the 2017 NBA playoffs, it has constrained the Raptors offense. In Game 3, it completely engulfed every offensive possession leaving a trail of bricks and turnovers.
Thon Maker was a menace, calling out defensive assignments, guarding the 3pt line and the rim like his life depended on it. You may never see a center cover as much ground, as quickly, as Maker did against the Raptors.
This one possession alone he successfully hedged Kyle Lowry into passing the ball, ran back to shut off the post up for Jonas Valanciunas, and (kind of) held his own on the box out until Malcolm Brogdon grabbed the rebound.
Speaking of Brogdon, it is very rare to see not just one rookie exceeding in the playoffs, but two. Malcolm, the man who should win Rookie of the Year this season, has been great. Playing his role and making very few mistakes, him combined with Maker lead to defense that appeared to be moving on a string. Traps with both players almost always lead to something positive for the Bucks, it’s probably only coincidence that those traps include 14 feet and 1 inch of total wingspan.
The other big man that played tremendously is one that waited 15,955 regular season minutes to finally taste the playoff atmosphere. Greg Monroe has averaged 16 points 8.7 rebounds on 55% shooting so far in the playoffs and has been seamlessly implemented onto the court. The average fan may not even know how good defensively Monroe has become in Milwaukee. His foot speed and body control have greatly improved making him perfect for running out past the three-point arc and getting in the grill of small guards.
His hustle and post moves have been much needed for the Bucks as well, as he has grabbed 8 offensive rebounds in just 3 games.
The Bucks had all of this going on top of getting a great shooting night from Khris Middleton (8/15), and the usual playoff greatness of Giannis Antetokounmpo (19pts, 8rebs, 4asts, 2stls, 2blks).
This is what created one of the worst playoff performances in years. The Raptors shooting a measly 33.8% from the field, turning the ball over 15 times, and scoring just 30 points in the first half. 7 points shy of the playoff record for fewest points scored in one-half.
Whatever it is about the playoffs, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry clam up. DeRozan did not hit even one field goal and Lowry was seriously disrupted by the defensive pressure.
The Raptors are down just one game. There is time to bounce back especially with a roster as talented as theirs. The ball needs to move more. As soon as the hedge comes that ball needs to find the open man and keep moving until the Bucks run out of guys to help with. The Raptors showed they are capable of this.
But, if the entire roster, including those that the average fan may not be able to pick out of a lineup, play as well as they have been playing. This series might be wrapped up for the Bucks and they might be looking for their next opponent in the 2017 NBA playoffs.