The Toronto Raptors and The Milwaukee Bucks have both solidified themselves as the 2nd and 1st seeds respectively. With the Raptors 114-106 victory, they improve to 51-19.

Star Powerless

ImageWith Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Kyle Lowry sitting out, Pascal Siakam stands as Toronto’s premier star. In a game where Siakam should be the best player on the floor Siakam’s 14 point performance was pedestrian. This is especially true with Giannis Antetokounmpo sitting out. His 31.3% shooting from the field and 14.3% from three was mediocre at best. Siakam has been underwhelming for a majority of the Bubble games. More akin to Tabasco sauce than a ghost pepper.

This has been said before but Siakam needs to stop stepping into the three ball in transition. Siakam is a defender’s worst nightmare in transition. As one of the fastest players in the league Pascal can outpace any big-man while out muscling any guard. Him stepping into a three is not the best possible scenario for the defence. Get the defence in foul trouble, get to the line, or just take an easy two points. Driving to the basket keeps the focus on Siakam, allowing trailing shooters high quality open shots in transition.

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The Attack of the Bench Mob

This was the game the bench needed. After a worrisome start in The Bubble the bench came alive this game. Matt Thomas was a man on fire against the Bucks. ‘Mr. 99%’ was a spark plug off the bench, pouring in 22 points. Those points came on 52.9% (9/17) shooting from the field and 50% (4/8) shooting from beyond the arc. Thomas is on his way to being an elite off-ball threat. With his quick release and the way he curls off screens is smooth and offers him fantastic open looks.

Chris Boucher had the game-high with his dominant 25 point performance. The Canadian big had impressive 60% (9/15), 42.9% (3/7), 80% (4/5) shooting splits. Boucher did more than just score the basketball. He grabbed 11 rebounds, 5 of which were offensive boards to secure a double-double. Boucher’s 2 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks helped him stuff the stat sheet. This game definitely served as the highlight game of his career thus far.

With the starting guards out Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had a chance to shine in an unexpected way. When Marc Gasol and Terrence Davis were off the floor it fell to ‘Chap’ to initiate the offence. His dished out 5 assists in his new role as well as a plethora of hockey assists. While Hollis-Jefferson still has trouble spreading the floor his uses as a roll man, passer, and rebounder are not to be understated. He fits in very nicely with the Raptors’ play style and offers them options that most teams do not have access to.

Letting Leads Slide

ImageThe Bucks closed a 22 point deficit to as low as 6 points. Despite this being a relatively meaningless game for both teams, it is still vexing to see the Raptors let teams back into the game. We saw this happen against the Miami Heat as well.

Going into the playoffs, it’s going to be a necessity to lock these teams out in the third and fourth quarters. The Raptors let up the most 2nd half 3-pointers (8.8) of any team in the bubble while also letting up the most assists (15.3). This leads to them letting up the third most points in the second half of all the remaining teams, letting up an average of 60.3 points in the final quarters of the game.

Up Next for the Raptors

Toronto will match ups against Philadelphia on Wednesday August 13th at 6:30 PM/EST. Despite the 76ers being the 5th seed in the East, they have suffered injuries to their duo of stars. With Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid both out, the Raptors have another chance to work out the kinks prior to the playoffs.