The Bucks Couldn't Hold On, But Their Comeback Against the Raptors Was Insane

Milwaukee nearly completed a historic Game 6 comeback against Toronto, but they couldn't seal the deal. The win probability shift was still crazy.

The Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 92-89 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup last night, winning the series 4-2.

That capped a streak of three straight wins for the Raptors (the most consecutive postseason wins they’ve ever had as a franchise), but don’t think for second that this was an easy series win.

The Bucks started off by winning Game 1 on Toronto’s home floor (marking the fifth time the Raps have dropped a Game 1 at home in the last four years), then absolutely embarrassed them in a 104-77 blowout in Milwaukee.

The Raptors had solid wins in Games 2, 4, and especially 5 (a 118-93 blowout of their own), but the Game 6 win was anything but convincing.

In a way, it was an interesting microcosm of the series as a whole: the Raptors looked dominant and like the clearly better team for part of it and then completely washed and lacking the mental fortitude of a true contender for the rest.

And here’s what that dichotomy looks like in the form of a win probability graph:

That high peak in the red line near the middle represents the 5:20 mark in the third quarter, when the Raptors opened up their biggest lead of the game with a DeMarre Carroll three-pointer that pushed the score to 71-46.

With a 25-point lead and only a little more than 17 minutes left to the game, the Raptors peaked with a 97.02% win probability. In the middle of the third quarter, those were pretty darn convincing odds.

But the Bucks woke up and rattled off a 34-7 run of their own between that point in the third and the 3:18 mark in the fourth, when a Jason Terry three gave the Bucks a 80-78 lead and a win probability of 60.75%.

During that run, the Bucks shot 47.6% from the field and 4-for-6 from three, while holding the Raptors to a putrid 2-for-14 from the field and 0-for-6 from deep. The Raptors have had their share of playoff meltdowns over the last four seasons, but perhaps none would’ve been considered worse than this one if they had lost.

Thankfully for Raptor fans, the team managed to collect itself then and there and started hitting shots. They closed out the game shooting 4-for-5 from the field (and 1-for-1 from three) on their way to outscoring the Bucks 14-9 over the last three minutes and change of the game.

The biggest probability swing of the game came on the one three-pointer from that final stretch, made by Cory Joseph at the 1:28 mark. That single shot pushed the lead to 85-82 and swung Toronto’s odds of winning a whopping 28.0% from 52.03% to 80.03%.

The next offensive possession for the Raptors didn’t lead to a probability jump that was quite as large as what resulted from the Joseph three before it, but it represented the proverbial nail in the coffin and will stand as one of the defining highlights of this series.

Here’s the crushing and cathartic DeMar DeRozan slam in question:

That pushed the Raptors’ win probability back up to 95.57%, and it never dropped back under 80% the rest of the way.

The Milwaukee Bucks gave the Toronto Raptors a run for their money this game and in round one in general, and a number of flaws they exposed might end up biting the Raptors in their impending Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

That said, our algorithms actually think the good (Games 2, 4, 5, and some of 6) outweighs the bad (Games 1, 3, and some of 6) with this Toronto team and that they have a legitimate chance of dethroning the defending champs in the next round, in what should be a tighter series than when these two teams met in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.

As of right now, we’ve got the Raptors winning a closely-contested series with Cleveland at 52.94%, with the most likely outcome being Raptors in six at 19.56%.

Thankfully, they already own