The chant echoed throughout the cavernous Bradley Center moments before tipoff of Game 3 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, and it wasn’t long until the Raptors found out it was more than just a catchy slogan for the Bucks to throw on T-shirts.
“FEAR THE DEER! FEAR THE DEER! FEAR THE DEER!”
It’s a message the rest of the league should take seriously because, Thursday night in Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo and company showed the whole world the best version of the Bucks — a team that’s more than just young, fun and exciting — is a team that’s capable of demolishing anyone in the league on any given night. And they might not be far from making that a regular occurrence.
“They came out and threw the first punch,” Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said after the Bucks ran the Raptors right off the floor, winning 104-77 in a game that was over after the first quarter.
The Bucks jumped out to a 32-12 lead in the opening 12 minutes, holding the Raps to just 4-of-18 shooting, a theme that would continue throughout the night, with Toronto finishing 24 of 71 from the field. DeMar DeRozan, who averaged 27 points in the regular season, went 0 for 8, and the entire Raptors starting lineup made only 11 shots — the same number Greg Monroe and Michael Beasley combined for off the bench for Milwaukee.
Boosted, to be sure, by a crowd Giannis called “unbelievable” following the game, the Bucks blitzed the Raptors defensively, using their length and athleticism to shut down everything the visitors tried to do in half court. They hounded Toronto’s ball handlers, challenged almost every shot and crashed the glass well, allowing only nine offensive rebounds, six of which came late in the fourth quarter