Right now, it’s difficult to call any team other than the Milwaukee Bucks the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks reasserted that position on Thursday night with an emphatic win against the Raptors in Toronto, in what might have been Milwaukee’s single best defensive performance of the year.
The Bucks held the Raptors to only 91.7 points per 100 possessions in the game, the Raptors’ second-worst mark in their 53 games so far this season. That marked the third time the Bucks held Toronto to 105 points per 100 possessions or fewer, meaning they’ve forced the Raps into three of their 13-worst offensive games this season. Those games all had one other thing in common: They were all Milwaukee victories.
On Thursday night, the heavy lifting was done by Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez. All three players have been terrific defensively throughout the season, but the way Bledsoe (and Malcolm Brogdon) snuffed out actions before they ever happened, Middleton made Kawhi Leonard earn every inch of space on the floor, and Lopez provided help to any and every teammate who got beat off the dribble or by a cut, was simply fantastic.
In this week’s edition of Last Night, In Basketball, we break down exactly how the Bucks stymied the dynamic Raptors offense.