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Antetokounmpo scores 28 points, Bucks beat Raptors 97-83

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TORONTO — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points, rookie Malcolm Brogdon had 16 and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Toronto Raptors 97-83 on Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

Playing his second career playoff series, Antetekounmpo made 13 of 18 shots, and added eight rebounds and three assists. Greg Monroe added 14 points, Tony Snell had 11, and Khris Middleton finished with 10 points and nine assists.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 27 points, and Serge Ibaka had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Raptors have lost the opening game in eight consecutive playoff series.

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry made only two of 11 field-goal attempts, missing all six 3-point efforts, and finished with four points. Jonas Valanciunas had nine points and nine rebounds.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Toronto.

Antetekounmpo picked up his fourth foul with 4:33 left in the third and headed to the bench as Toronto’s P.J. Tucker was making two free throws to break a 64-all tie.

Without Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee closed the quarter on an 11-5 run to take a 75-70 lead into the fourth.

Milwaukee kept it going after Antetokounmpo returned for the final quarter. The Bucks scored eight straight points, including four from Khris Middleton, to make it 85-71 with 8:47 left.

Ibaka’s jump shot at 7:49 was Toronto’s first made field goal of the fourth. Toronto shot 7 for 35 in the second half, following up a 3 for 18 showing in the third by going 4 for 17 in the fourth. The Raptors went 27 for 75 overall.

Many in the sellout crowd headed for the exits throughout the final quarter as the Bucks stretched their lead to a game-high 19 points.

Ibaka was the only Raptors starter to make a 3-pointer. Toronto finished 5 for 23 from long range, with the starting five going 1 for 13. No Raptors player made more than one 3-pointer.

Toronto trailed 30-22 after the first but outscored Milwaukee 29-16 in the second to take a 51-46 lead at halftime. Ibaka scored 10 points in the first and DeRozan had 10 in the second, going 6 for 6 from the free throw line.

TIP INS

Bucks: Milwaukee shot 7 for 21 in the second. … Milwaukee has won consecutive games against Toronto after losing 13 of the previous 14 meetings.

Raptors: After playing 418 games over seven seasons, Tucker made his playoff debut. … DeRozan finished with one assist. … Actor Ethan Hawke attended the game.

Report: D.J. Augustin reaches deal with Chicago Bulls

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We told you this was coming and now a real has been reached: D.J. Augustin is about to be a Chicago Bulls.

Augustin cleared waivers on Wednesday and has reached a deal as a free agent with Chicago, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Augustin needs to pass a physical with the Bulls on Thursday. He was waived by the Toronto Raptors on Monday.

The Bulls need some depth in the backcourt — Derrick Rose is out for the season, Jimmy Butler is still injured, Mike James is out (not to mention Luol Deng and Joakim Noah). Which means on Tuesday night the Bulls Kirk Hinrich, started rookie Tony Snell at the guard spot. And Marquis Teague got time off the bench.

In that situation, Augustin is an improvement. He can provide depth.

He’s not a game changer for the struggling Bulls, however. He was part of the Pacers rotation last season but they let him walk. Augustin signed as a free agent in Toronto but struggled to get minutes (he has played in just 10 games this season). When the Raptors landed Greivis Vasquez in the Rudy Gay trade Augustin was no longer needed and was waived.

Ideally Augustin is really a three-point specialist (although he shot just 1-of-11 from three in Toronto this year). He’s fairly quick with the ball but he struggles to finish in the paint and has struggled from the midrange. His defense will have Tom Thibodeau pulling out what is left of his hair.

This is not a long-term answer, but it’s better than what they got.

5 Preseason Observations

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1. The disconnect isn’t necessarily obvious. If you watch preseason, on the surface, there’s not much outside of the number of minutes for starters between regular season and this. I mean, the game is fundamentally the same. But the speed and intensity differential is startling, and you’ll see the shift for small moments with the key players putting themselves in a higher gear. It essentially means that most of the time, even when you see something that is fundamentally good or bad, you have to understand that there’s just very little connection between this and what we’ll see starting October 30th.

2. So in that vein, very little should be made of the Hornets, on either side. A 3-1 record would indicate that they’re actually putting some things together, but if you watch the games or look at the box you can tell that they are severely struggling. But on the flip side, Eric Gordon hasn’t played, and Anthony Davis sat out their Friday night loss for rest.

But the concerns are mostly in that the offense looks like quite the mess. Yes, Gordon is going to help, but there are concerns about Greivis Vasquez who has been charged with running point guard, and the small forward position is still a huge question mark. The results with the big lineup featuring Roben Lopez, Anderson, and Davis have not been good. In large part, the Hornets just don’t seem to have a whole lot of talent offensively.

But again, it’s preseason.

3. Jonas Valanciunas for the Raptors had an awful opening stat line but made a jump in his second game. The off-the-box stuff though, stands out nicely. He’s a quality rotation defender and aggressive at blocking shots. He’s got both good instincts under the basket and a little bit of savvy. He’s going to have growing pains, but you don’t get a sense watching him that he’s just completely lost, like some other top-five-pick big men of the last few years did, even in preseason.

4. The Lakers bench had better be saving itself.

5. Teams who appear sharp: Miami, Denver, San Antonio, Golden State.
Teams who do not appear sharp: Washington, Charlotte, Portland, the Clippers, and OKC’s bench.

But again, as always, it’s preseason.

Report: Dominic McGuire signs with Toronto

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Dominic McGuire has hung out there as one of the few name free agents left on the list. McGuire was a reserve in Golden State last year, averaging just 17.6 minutes. He averaged just 7.3 points per 36 minutes, but also tagged close to 8 rebounds and 1.4 assists at that rate. Additionally, it was the first time in his career I’ve kept an eye on him and noticed a real difference being made defensively. Synergy Sports had him tagged at allowing just .71 in the post, and a ridiculous .585 points per possession in Isolation. It was a limited sample but he made a real difference.

And now he’ll be hopefully making that difference in Toronto. From Yahoo Sports:

McGuire, who played 64 of 66 games for Golden State a season ago, is still working out the details on a one- or two-year deal, sources said, but has committed to play for Toronto. He was scheduled to participate in a workout with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday with free agent Josh Childress, but cancelled after agreeing to play for Toronto this season.

via Dominic McGuire reaches agreement to play for Raptors – Yahoo! Sports.

McGuire should work well with coach Dwane Casey, and provide him with an option for a defense-first player where they have some depth issues. It’s a solid pick-up and likely on the cheap, a win for both sides.

How Darius Songaila’s play in the Olympics is a bad sign for the Raptors

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In Saturday’s Team USA squeaker against Lithuania, fringe NBA player (who hasn’t been in the league for a year) played nearly 18 minutes, particularly down the stretch.

Raptors lottery pick and presumed starting center next season, Jonas Valanciunas, played just eight. It’s yet another game where Valanciunas has struggled to see floor time and struggled to produce when granted any. It’s been the first real concern in the big man’s development, when he was expected to be the next big thing to hit the NBA with his defense and production in the pick and roll.

Afterwards, Lithuania’s coach told ESPN that he preferred Songaila’s “NBA know-how” vs. Valanciunas’ youth when Tyson Chandler was off the floor.

Yikes.

Songaila has some ability, and in all honesty, international competition changes the complexion of what many players can do and who they are. Jose Calderon is a legitimate star, Russell Westbrook is a role player. This is just part of it. But that’s got to be concerning. It’s thought that Valanciunas can make an immediate impact. If he’s unable to convince his coach to get minutes on talent alone over Songaila, that’s an issue.

But there’s no reason to panic. One, Valanciunas is young, and the coach is trying to win games right now. His job isn’t to develop Valanciunas, whereas the Raptors have that luxury when the playoffs are possible but not essential. He also won’t be facing, you know, Team USA every game, or the Gasol brothers. But if we’re not tapping the breaks on the JoVal car, we may want to at least get the foot ready.