By Jimmy Carlton Sportswriter Published Apr 24, 2017 at 3:35 PM Photography: David Bernacchi

Let’s just come right out and say it: The Bucks’ Game 4 loss to the Raptors on Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center was kind of gross.

All the same important and aesthetically pleasing elements from the exquisite extinction of those purple undersized dinosaurs in Game 3 were still there – a spectacular pregame show, a raucous atmosphere inside the arena, a tie-less Jason Kidd on the sidelines, Giannis Antetokounmpo wearing No. 34 and participating in the contest, etc. – but something was different.

It didn’t take long for those watching – whether on TV, in the stands or from the Bucks’ dismayed bench – to figure out what was happening: Toronto was out to muck up the game, trying to make it a sloppy, ground-out, grueling and foul-filled affair.

The Raptors jam-packed the paint to clog the Bucks’ driving lanes and forced Milwaukee to take jump shots it proved unable to hit – 37.0 percent field-goal shooting, including 23.8 percent on three-pointers. The Bucks, stymied and slowed, countered by throwing the ball away a lot in an 87-76 loss that evened their first-round series at two games apiece. The 76 points were their fewest in more than five months.

Milwaukee finished with 20 turnovers to 16 assists Saturday (after averaging a sparkling 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio the first three games) and afterward, we wrote about the team’s lack of ball movement and tempo in the ugly defeat. But re-watching the game and listening to comments on both sides, another, potentially bigger problem stood out: Milwaukee looked powerless to win in a gritty dogfight.

There was a reason that many people were initially skeptical of the Bucks’ chances in this series; Toronto has been a very difficult matchup for Milwaukee the past few years. The Bucks are 2-10 against the Raptors since 2014-15, victimized by Toronto’s physical style, size and defensive discipline. In Game 4, Toronto collapsed the lane, switched its guards on screens, sent help defenders often and was aggressive on the perimeter.

The young Bucks, with their heretofore-heralded length and athleticism, were beaten up by the stronger, more experienced Raptors – particularly forwards Serge Ibaka, DeMarre Carroll and P.J. Tucker – seemingly bullied and sounding spent. Overall, Milwaukee has played well, the better team in at least nine of this series' 16 quarters, but it will have to make adjustments – in attittude, as well as style – to win two of the next three bouts.

1. Punishing play

"It was a physical game – not more physical than (the Raptors) have been," said rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon. "Overall, I thought we weren't as physical, that they were a little bit more physical."

2. Not strong enough

"We've got to be tougher with the ball," Kidd said. "First play of the game we knew they were going to reach – and they reached all night. It was a physical game; the referees were letting the players play." The Bucks got to the line more than the Raptors, but they made only 11 of 18 free throws, compared to 16 of 17 for Toronto.

3. Harassing Giannis

Antetokounmpo, averaging 23.7 points and 10.3 rebounds the first three games, scored just 14 on 6-of-19 shooting, while committing a career-high-tying seven turnovers.

"We were just trying to send as many bodies to him as we possibly could," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said after the game. "P.J. (Tucker), D.C. (DeMarre Carroll), Patrick (Patterson), Norm (Powell) got to him; DeMar got switched onto him a couple of times. We wanted to make sure we sent early help, try to make it as congested as possible for him to see and find other people."

4. Lane congestion

Antetokounmpo said Toronto was being physical, "just throwing bodies," and he was "just missing shots." He said the Bucks had to do a better job moving the ball, not turning it over and finding the open man, but Toronto made it difficult by frequently pulling in all five defenders.

"The Raptors are collapsing in the paint and we need to do a better job of finding the open man and take care of the ball. If we do that we're going to be in a great position."

5. '90s-like chippiness

From the beginning of the game, when Ibaka went under Thon Maker to prevent a dunk attempt, it was clear Toronto was allowing no easy baskets. As Raptors guard Kyle Lowry put it, "It was real old-school Eastern Conference basketball. It was kind of ugly, but we won."

The Bucks have shown in Games 1 and 3 that they can play beautiful basketball and win. But to prevail in this series, Milwaukee will have to roll up its sleeves, get tough and maybe a little bit gross to scrap with the Raps.

Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.

After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.

Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.