On one hand Bucks fans had a lot to celebrate Thursday night. Giannis was named as a starter for the NBA All-Star game for the fifth straight year, and Fiserv Forum gave host to a crowd of 500 as the Bucks welcomed fans for only the second time all season.
On the other hand, however, with Thursday night’s loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Bucks, who were previously one of the hottest teams in the league, are now suffering a five-game losing streak, including back-to-back home losses to Toronto.
So let’s break down the good and bad from Thursday night’s contest, by the numbers:
500: Fans cheered on their Bucks during Thursday night’s matchup
After hosting 250 fans on Tuesday for the Bucks’ first of two games against Toronto this week, Fiserv Forum hosted twice the amount of fans for Thursday evening’s game. Fans were spaced throughout the lower level in socially distanced pods, with ample amount of signage and policies in the arena to ensure a safe experience for the first fans to enjoy a game at the home court in 2021.
In such a large arena, 500 people felt more like 50, but the limited crowd size was necessary to help the arena staff safely ease into the relatively larger crowd sizes that will follow.
1,800: Fans expected as soon as this weekend
As the team inches towards its allotted attendance numbers, granted by the Milwaukee Health Department, the Bucks are expected to welcome a total of 1,800 fans this Sunday as Giannis and company host the Sacramento Kings. Sunday will mark the first game accessible to the general public, one of the many games that went on sale to fans on Thursday afternoon.
With a current ceiling of 1,800, the Bucks and the Health Department will revisit the limit for the forthcoming second half of the season, with the hopes of welcoming more fans to Fiserv Forum as the playoffs approach.
349: Days since the Bucks had played in front of their hometown crowd
Before Tuesday night, it had been nearly a year (349 days, to be exact) since the Bucks played in front of a hometown crowd. Milwaukee handled their business against the Indiana Pacers on March 4, 2020, just days before the NBA put their 2019-20 season on an indefinite pause that would later end in the Orlando bubble.
5: Losses in a row for the 16-13 Bucks
A crowd of a few hundred was not enough to get the Bucks out of their current rut. Toronto handed Milwaukee their fourth straight loss earlier in the week, the team’s first four-game losing streak since dropping four straight to the Raptors in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, a wound that still has not healed for many Bucks fans. Unfortunately Toronto extended Milwaukee’s losing streak on Thursday with a dominating performance from Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam, who combined for 56 points.
It’s not time to hit the panic button just yet, but hopefully the Bucks can get back on the right track before the All-Star break, especially since the team will play their next six games at home and in front of fans.
6: Straight games without Jrue Holiday
The Bucks’ star acquisition this season, Jrue Holiday, has missed the last six games due to the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. It’s unclear how many more games the talented guard will be sidelined for, but his teammates and fans can’t wait for his return. Milwaukee has struggled without him, and a lot of the Bucks’ problems during their current losing streak can be attributed to his absence.
3: Games out of first place in the East
Despite their disappointing losing streak, the Bucks are just three games out of first place in the Eastern Conference, sitting behind the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. With Holiday set to return in the near future, Milwaukee is still in a great position to secure home court advantage in the East. The Bucks likely didn’t expect to be just a few games above .500 at this point in the season, but many fans are content that they are still in striking distance for the number one seed.
8: Assists for Fred VanVleet
Fred VanVleet isn’t a popular name in the city of Milwaukee. VanVleet played a huge and arguably unexpected role in the Raptors’ four straight wins against the Bucks in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, and he continued to perform well against the Bucks on Thursday night. While Vanvleet only shot 5 for 15 on Thursday, he led all passers with eight assists in the game, doing whatever he could to help the Raptors coast to victory.
39.8: Field-goal percentage for Milwaukee
Overall it was the Bucks’ very poor shooting percentage that played the biggest role in the team’s defeat. Milwaukee shot under 40 percent from the floor and under 30 percent from long range for the evening. Compare that to their 49 percent and 39 percent averages on the year, and it’s no surprise that Toronto swept Milwaukee this week.
Expect the Bucks to regress back to the mean after their bad shooting night when the team hosts the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight at Fiserv Forum.