Playing without Giannis, who had to take a ride to the bubble dentist, the Bucks weren’t exactly in playoff mode. Kyle Korver signed up off the bench to hit five triples and score 19 points, but that’s not a good sign when he’s the top scorer at this point in his career. As a team, they shot just 39.3% from the field and didn’t exactly lock in on the defensive side.
Here are three takeaways from this game:
1. Preview ECF potential only in name
For the second season in a row, these two teams finished with the best Eastern Conference records, and there is a good chance they will meet in the Eastern Conference Finals for a second consecutive season as well. . This game, however, was only a potential preview in name.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was absent after having to see the dentist, while Kyle Lowry (rear), Fred VanVleet (knee) and Serge Ibaka (knee) were also sidelined. If that wasn’t bad enough, Wesley Matthews hobbled to the ground after just a few minutes and didn’t return, while Pat Connaughton also left the game after hitting his head on the ground.
These are six key players who missed part or all of this game, and it’s pretty hard to draw meaningful conclusions when they do. Plus, these two teams are already locked in their playoff spots, so they had nothing tangible to play with. All in all, it felt more like one of the scrum games than a playoff game.
2. Takeover of Matt Thomas
Unless you’re a die-hard Raptors fan, you’d be forgiven for not knowing Matt Thomas. The 26-year-old rookie has played sparingly for Toronto this season, and the fact that he averaged four points in 10 minutes per game was honestly a bit of a disappointment considering he only played 39 games.
But with Lowry and VanVleet out for this game, Nick Nurse asked Thomas to fill in for a few minutes in the backcourt. He certainly took advantage of it, catching fire and forcing the nurse to let him in for 37 minutes. Before this match, he had never played more than 22.
Thomas finished the night with 22 points and five 3-pointers, both of which were career records, and was a team record plus 13 in the eight-point victory. He earned his place in the league because of his ridiculous shooting, so it was no surprise that he exhibited it against the Bucks, hitting some really tough shots from downtown.
3. Injury concerns for dollars
The Bucks haven’t really found their rhythm so far in the bubble, and it would be good for them if they can figure out some things in the last few games, but the main focus for them at this point is simply to s ‘Ensure they’re healthy for the playoffs. At this point, Monday hasn’t gone very well for them.
Giannis was away, but it was just something he had to deal with that shouldn’t have any consequences for him in the long run. However, within minutes of the start of the match, Wesley Matthews limped off the ground and did not return. Then, at the end of the second half, Pat Connaughton had a difficult fall and hit the back of his head on the field.
According to head coach Mike Budenholzer, Matthews was having a bit of discomfort in his thigh and groin area, and the team are hoping he’ll be okay, but they’ll have to see how he reacts tomorrow. As for Connaughton, Budenholzer said “early reports say he’s fine,” but like Matthews, the next few days will really tell the story.
It looks like the Bucks have luckily escaped some serious trouble and hopefully that will continue throughout the week.