It’s a new year! January 1st 2018, the Toronto Raptors (24-10) host the Milwaukee Bucks (19-15). I am surprised to note the Raptors have a better record, due to the fact that I have not heard much about them this season. They are statistically a lesser nationally broadcasted team. I also tend to neglect certain teams for no particular reason other than lacking the extra hours in a day necessary to stay on top of all 32. No excuses. Tonight is he first time these teams have seen each other since April, in game 6 of playoffs - the Raptors won the series.
Serge Ibaka (TOR) is back after a team suspension due to an altercation with a team staff member, sitting out their last game against the Atlanta Hawks - Raptors won. DeMar DeRozan (TOR) scores all 9 of the points in the game, the Bucks remaining scoreless. Coming back from a time out, you know that Milwaukee's coach, Jason Kidd (MIL) has talked strategy and sense into his team. The Bucks get on the board and here we go! Serge "Iblocka" (TOR) lives up to his nickname with a hard block off Eric Bledsoe’s (MIL) attempted dunk.
The commentators mention how DeRozan spent New Years Eve shooting in the gym, and lord, his hard work is paying off, finishing the quarter with 21 points. Toronto’s defense holds Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) to just one field goal. The Raptors are up 35-30.
The Bucks get it together and tie the game early in the second. Milwaukee is much faster than they were the last time these two teams met, though both teams are evenly matched in this quarter. Toronto keeps the lead, 60-56 at halftime.
Toronto shoots some big buckets, but it appears that each time this happens, Giannis is there, coming back quick to match! The Raptors are putting their bodies on the line, preventing Giannis from getting any easy layups or dunks, truly making him work for his points. Regardless the Greek Freak is so effective off the fast break, he manages to keep it within a one possession game. Kyle Lowry (TOR) is having difficulties scoring, though he is good at finding the open man. The third comes to and end, Toronto up 88-84.
The teams go bucket for bucket throughout the fourth quarter. Three minutes left and the Bucks take the lead. “I didn’t watch this whole game for you guys to lose.” “How many jump balls in this game?” So many, someone stat me. The Raptors coach, Dwane Casey (TOR), is losing his temper with a referee, teetering on a technical. Ibaka with another block followed by DeRozan putting up the necessary points along with an and 1. The Bucks take the lead for a minute, but then Lowry nails an open three, and it’s a tied game! He must feel good – really good. 56 seconds remaining, Giannis looks alert as hell. Clap Clap-Clap Clap Your Hands. Cha Cha Real Smooth.
DeRozan’s hands are on what could be the last possession, getting the ball to Lowry for the three – no good. With just 3 seconds left, the Bucks inbound the ball, though they are unable to score. 114-114. Overtime!
Lowry gets his moment to shine in the fifth quarter. The Raptors appear hyper passionate and the crowd is vibing off that energy. The crowd chants MVP at DeRozan as he shoots free throws. Eric Bledsoe (MIL) comes back with a three, though the Raptors still lead, 128-125. The MVP chant starts up again as DeRozan hits the line. Due to the immense pressure, he asks the crowd to be quiet and inadvertently silences the arena. He gets the points! Toronto wins 131-127! Celebrate good times. 12 wins in a row for the Raptors! DeRozan sets a franchise high, and personal best, with 52 points.