Welcome to the 10 things recap by theScore features writer William Lou, which serves to highlight emerging trends from a Raptors perspective.
Equal: The Bucks had an answer to everything the Raptors threw at them, and so, it was a see-saw affair right down to the final shot. Toronto briefly took the lead on a three by Kawhi Leonard, but the Raptors lost track of Malcolm Brogdon on back-to-back possessions and failed to close it out.
Clutch: Leonard nearly won the game on his own. After being double-teamed the entire night, the Bucks switched to single coverage in the fourth and he burned them. Leonard drilled a corner three, nailed two pick-and-pop jumpers, forced Giannis Antetokounmpo into an air ball, and forced a turnover off Khris Middleton.
Foreshadowing: However, the Bucks stopped Leonard in his tracks by reverting back to their double teams in the final two minutes. Leonard saw three bodies in the paint every time he drove, and the Raptors failed to convert that added defensive scrutiny into open shots.
Flawed: Kyle Lowry has officially hit rock bottom, at least as far as regular season games go. He disappeared in yet another close game, as Lowry went scoreless in 33 minutes and was deathly afraid to shoot the ball - aside for some hopeful transition threes. Lowry is still setting up his teammates, but it's a huge drain on the offense when the main playmaker literally can't score a single bucket.
Secondary: The Raptors got their secondary scoring from Serge Ibaka, who was totally ignored for most of the night as the Bucks prioritized helping off the center to guard the paint. Ibaka drilled four threes and had 22 points, but the Bucks will gladly take that if it means keeping Leonard and Lowry to a combined 20 points.
Unsustainable: However, if the Raptors have Finals aspirations, they can't rely on either of Ibaka or Lowry - in his current condition - to be the No. 2 scorer behind Leonard. They either need to figure out what's wrong with Lowry, or trade for another piece. Otherwise, the offense is lacking.
Tactics: Nick Nurse caught the Bucks by surprise by playing Pascal Siakam at center to end the first quarter. Toronto found success by switching everything, doubling Giannis in the post, and sending multiple bodies to the defensive glass.
Brain fart: However, Nurse also cost the Raptors to start the fourth when he rolled out an all-bench lineup that allowed a 6-0 run in 90 seconds before he put Siakam back in the game. The second unit remains a mess. They don't even know what play they're running half the time and they're toast when Jonas Valanciunas doesn't have it going.
Weakness: Fred VanVleet was excellent in lineups with the starters and he made timely threes en route to 19 points off the bench. However, he's simply too small, and the Bucks were driving right past him. He got torched by both Brogdon and Sterling Brown.
Careful: The Bucks are extremely well coached. Not only do they always make the right adjustments, but they play hard. Milwaukee didn't even concede a single fast-break point until the fourth quarter, and that was when C.J. Miles barrelled into the defense for a tough layup. Mike Budenholzer is easily the Coach of the Year.