Covering my second straight home opener for the Milwaukee Bucks, the game on Saturday night didn’t quite equal to the one last year. Well, the Bucks brought in 11 new players and a game winning shot wasn’t made with 0.7 seconds left off the inbound.
In front of a crowd over 16,000, the team faced an opponent they regularly have dominated against in the past, the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks were riding a four game wining streak against the team from across the border, on top of playing well overall in home openers with a 33-13 record.
Brandon Knight and Luke Ridnour were both inactive for the second straight game as both of them continue to deal with injuries. Milwaukee doesn’t have a game until next Wednesday, so both of them should be ready to go by then. In the meantime, Nate Wolters is the only healthy point guard for the squad and got his first NBA start in just his third NBA game. Wolters became the first Buck drafted in the second round to crack the starting lineup within his first three career games since Dan Gadzuric.
Oh, and it just so happened to be in the home opener. If Knight or Ridnour can’t play in Wednesday’s game against Cleveland, Wolters will have a huge task playing opposite of Cavaliers star Kyrie Irving.
Wolters played well, and he actually made the first basket of the Bucks season at home with a pretty baseline floater. Nate finished with only seven points but managed to dish out 10 assists while playing a team high 36 minutes in the game. “The point guard is the engine of the team. You need him to play well to have a chance. That’s what he did.” John Henson said after the game.
Milwaukee playing from behind wasn’t anything new after coming back from deficits of 22 and 25 points against New York and Boston. Milwaukee shot themselves in the foot multiple times on the night though, which included them missing five of six free throws. Milwaukee went 10-18 from the foul line on the night. After the game, O.J. Mayo said, “We had opportunities. We got some fast break opportunities. Missed some layups. It’s all about converting. Finishing up the play.” Missed opportunities became the phrase of the night in the Bucks locker room, Milwaukee didn’t capitalize after shrinking the Raptors’ lead to five with 8:54 left to play in the fourth. Mayo hit two big shots from behind the arc during the fourth quarter as well, including one that tied the game at 85.
Yet Toronto proved to be too much within the last few minutes for Milwaukee. On top of the ugly foul shots, the inability for the Bucks to stop Toronto’s big men from grabbing boards in the paint and stopping them from getting second chance points put this one away in the end. The Raptors outrebounded the Bucks 60-38, with eight players grabbing at least five rebounds.
Toronto spoiled the home opener by defeating Milwaukee 97-90. The Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Bucks, which stood as Milwaukee’s longest active streak against any opponent.
Milwaukee will play their next game at home against Cleveland, while Toronto’s next game will also be at home against Miami.