“The beginning [of the game] set us in a really bad spot,” Gasol said. “We couldn’t get a grip of the game early on, and I take full responsibility for that.”
With the loss, the Raptors now trail the Bucks 2-0 as the series moves to Toronto for Game 3 on Sunday.
After being nipped by Milwaukee in the closing minutes of Game 1 on Wednesday night, the Raptors sputtered out of the gate in Game 2. They trailed 9-0 after three minutes of action, during which Gasol missed three shots, including a layup attempt swatted away at point-blank range by Bucks center Brook Lopez.
“I played really bad, and that set the tone,” Gasol said.
Gasol finished with two points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field and is 3-for-20 over the first two games of the series. On Friday, he logged 19 minutes — only five in the second half — as Raptors coach Nick Nurse opted to play Serge Ibaka for much of the second half.
“I feel bad for him,” Nurse said of Gasol. “Most of those went in and out. It’s like, he’s a really good player, a really good scorer. He was taking good shots and just couldn’t buy one.”
Gasol, who was crucial to containing Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid in the previous series, was hardly the sole or decisive factor in the Raptors’ blowout loss Friday. Toronto, which ranks second among playoff teams in defensive efficiency in the postseason, allowed Milwaukee to score 50 points in the paint and 28 in transition in Game 2.
“We’ve got to play better defense,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “We gave up 125 points. That’s too many points in the playoffs.”
The Raptors continued to struggle finding high-percentage shots against the Bucks’ long, athletic defense. For the second consecutive game, the Raptors attempted far fewer field goals at the rim than from midrange and struggled from the 3-point line.
Toronto is underperforming on its selection of uncontested shots. After draining only 10 of 23 open field goal attempts in Game 1, Toronto converted only 7 of 18 uncontested looks at the basket in Game 2, continuing a trend that has persisted since the Raptors’ conference semifinals series against Philadelphia.
“I sound like a broken record up here, but we had our share of wide-open shots that could have at least stymied a little bit of the breakout in the score,” Nurse said.
The Raptors now will have the opportunity to even the series with the next two contests on their home floor, where they are 5-2 during the postseason.
“If we want to do anything or be a championship team, we gotta play through adversity,” Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard said. “And it’s a challenge now, to come home, Game 3, and try to get a win.”