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Raptors fall apart, give Bucks all possible advantages

Sportsnet logo Sportsnet 2017-04-21 Michael Grange
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(Related video provided by USA Today)

MILWAUKEE – Success in professional sports in large part due to confidence. The power of belief. In a contest between near equals, the absence of doubt, the ability to perform at near-peak levels in adverse situations would often seem to be the difference.

The Raptors were a confident bunch heading into Game 3 in Milwaukee. They were the veteran, playoff-hardened group. They had been in tough situations on the road before – just last year, as a matter of fact.

They may have slipped in Game 1 against the youthful Bucks, but they righted things in Game 2 back in the friendly confines of Air Canada Centre, while still leaving room for improvement.

Were the Raptors starting to get closer to their true capabilities after that early stumble?

“I don’t think we’re nowhere near it, honestly,” said Kyle Lowry in the morning before Game 3. “I don’t think we’re anywhere near our full potential, honestly. I think we have a lot more effort to give. I think we can do a lot better on the defensive end. I think we can do better to get on the same page, to get on the same gear.”

So, tied in the series and with their best basketball yet to come. You can work with that.

But what about those legions of long Milwaukee defenders, the Raptors have that figured out, right? Nothing new here.

“It’s the same,” said DeMar DeRozan before Game 3 tipped off. “It’s just on me making the right decision, being aggressive, when to attack, when to make the right play. Just me being conscious of how they’re going to after me and how I can get going and how I can get my team going.

“Everything’s the same.”

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And while playing on the road has its risks, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey believed his team was well-positioned to manage whatever the playoff-starved crowd at BMO Harris Bradley Center might have in store for them.

That’s what a veteran team is all about.

“On the road, that’s where it shows up,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “You don’t get rattled, you keep your composure, you play to your identity. You don’t come out and try to do something you don’t normally do. That’s where experience shows up. Every experienced team I’ve been around, on the road is where it shows up.”

Well, throw that out the window. Throw it all out.

Because the Raptors didn’t show up. That’s indisputable. Or worse, they came and they cowered, unable to solve the riddle the Bucks presented. 

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