With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined because of injury, Ersan Ilyasova scored a season-high 19 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Toronto Raptors 124-109 on Monday night in a showdown between the NBA’s last two undefeated teams.
Milwaukee improved to 7-0 in a marquee matchup that lost some lustre as Antetokounmpo was out due to concussion protocol and Raptors star Kawhi Leonard sat out to rest.
The Bucks’ start to the season matches the 1971-72 club for the best in franchise history. Milwaukee made up for Antetokounmpo’s absence with another strong showing from the perimeter, with Malcolm Brogdon and Eric Bledsoe chipping in 17 points each.
Serge Ibaka scored 30 points for Toronto, which had its franchise-best 6-0 start snapped. Pascal Siakam added 22.
They still couldn’t keep up with the Bucks, who eclipsed the 110-point mark for the seventh straight game even without the high-flying Antetokounmpo, who averages 25.0 points and 14.2 rebounds.
Ilyasova, starting for Antetokounmpo, helped pick up the slack, setting the tone with an active night all over the floor and adding a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Bucks didn’t stop moving when they had the ball either, especially at the three-point line.
First-year coach Mike Budenholzer wants his team to hoist three-pointers, and an 11-3 run in the fourth quarter sparked by two threes from Khris Middleton helped turn a 15-point advantage into a 113-90 lead with 7:39 left.
It was the first game in NBA history between teams that both entered with a record of 6-0 or better, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Bucks’ defence tightened after allowing the Raptors to start 12 of 17 (70 per cent) from the floor with 2:37 left in the first quarter.