NBA

Three takeaways from Bucks' Game 1 win over Raptors

By Sports Desk May 15, 2019

The Milwaukee Bucks moved one game closer to playing for a championship by overcoming the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.

Milwaukee pulled out a 108-100 win over Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals at the Fiserv Forum.

The Bucks trailed by seven entering the fourth quarter but opened the period on a 20-8 run and held on for the win from there.

Brook Lopez scored a team-high 29 points for Milwaukee while Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry combined for 61 points for the Raptors in the losing effort.

Here are three takeaways from the Bucks' Game 1 win:

 

This series should be a fun one

On paper, this series looked like it would be one of the most intriguing of the entire playoffs. After one matchup, that observation still stands.

Game 1 was by no means an offensive showcase, but both teams were evenly matched. Toronto and Milwaukee each relied on their stars while role players stepped up for both teams.

The matchup was tied with four minutes, two seconds left and the outcome was in doubt in the final minutes.

Every game of the Eastern Conference finals has the potential to turn into a must watch.

 

Malcolm Brogdon makes an impact

It did not take Malcolm Brogdon long to make an impact.

The 26-year-old guard suffered a foot injury last month and did not return until the final game of the Bucks' conference semi-final series against the Boston Celtics. Milwaukee were thankful to have him on the floor on Wednesday.

Brogdon finished with 15 points on five-of-nine shooting while adding three rebounds and three assists in 27 minutes. He also finished a big fast break dunk midway through the fourth quarter that energised his team.

Brogdon will give the Bucks a big boost off the bench if he can continue to contribute in a big way.

 

Bucks overcome three-point struggles

It was not all good news for Milwaukee.

Despite the win, the Bucks were dreadful from long range. They finished 11 of 44 from behind the arc, a mark of 25 per cent.

Khris Middleton and Nikola Mirotic combined to hit just two of their 12 total three-point shots, Eric Bledsoe failed to connect on all six of his while Ersan Ilyasova missed three of his four triple attempts.

Milwaukee may not be able to afford to shoot like that again in this series.

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  • Antetokounmpo insists Bucks are still fighting in Raptors series Antetokounmpo insists Bucks are still fighting in Raptors series

    The Milwaukee Bucks will not collapse despite their damaging defeat to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, Giannis Antetokounmpo has vowed.

    Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points, six assists and six rebounds in the 105-99 reverse on home court, though he went off late on after suffering an ankle injury.

    The Bucks took the lead in the series but have now lost three successive matches, with the Raptors 3-2 ahead, and able to secure an NBA Finals place should they win the sixth game on Saturday.

    But Antetokounmpo insists the Bucks are still in the fight.

    "We're not going to fold," Antetokounmpo told a news conference.

    "We're the best team in the league. We're gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can't fold. We're gonna come back to Milwaukee being p*****.

    "I just want to win. I think we had a chance to win it, but we didn't. Obviously, I'm p*****. I am not gonna lie to you. We got two more games to go."

  • Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard Raptors must live for the moment as NBA Finals beckon, says Leonard

    Kawhi Leonard has urged his Toronto Raptors team-mates to "enjoy the moment" after they moved to within one win of the NBA Finals.

    Leonard starred with a 35-point game on Thursday, as the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals after a 105-99 win at the Fiserv Forum.

    A victory in the sixth game on Saturday would confirm the Raptors' place in the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

    And 2019 All-Star Leonard - an NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 - says the Raptors must embrace the pressure.

    "Experience helps a lot," Leonard told a news conference. "I've been here before, I've been to the finals, it's pretty much nothing new that I'm seeing.

    "You've just got to have fun with it, enjoy it. I told them tonight, when we were down 10, to enjoy the moment and embrace it and have fun and love it, this is why we're here.

    "It's a great opportunity. What you work for in the summer is to win basketball games. 

    "The same mindset through the play-offs is to come in, have fun, try to execute as best as I can. Play confident and whatever happens will happen."

    Leonard did not exert the same authority on proceedings as he has done in earlier matches throughout the series, but came up with a match-winning performance in the fourth quarter.

    Having opened the Raptors' scoring in the final period with two jumpers, Leonard followed up with a pair of three-pointers to nudge his side ahead.

    The 27-year-old also provided nine assists, but insists that he is not a player that aims to dictate the Raptors' play

    "I'm not a guy that really controls the ball the whole game. I just try to give other people the opportunities to shine, and not try to be a dominant ball player," Leonard said.

    "I try to stay with a consistent mindset throughout the whole game, trying to read the defence throughout the entire game, see what's working. 

    "I'm not afraid of the moment, I enjoy it. You've just got to go and shoot the ball, that’s my mindset.

    "Get to a spot, help my team win the game. If it's me scoring points or getting my team-mates wide open. I'm just out there trying to win, be aggressive, don't shy away from anything."

  • Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals Raptors fan Drake: I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals

    Toronto Raptors superfan Drake said his courtside antics during the Eastern Conference Finals have not been "disrespectful" as he continued to troll the Milwaukee Bucks following Thursday's Game 5.

    The Grammy Award-winning Canadian rapper has become a major storyline during the series, laughing at MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo when the Bucks star missed a free throw and rubbing the shoulders of Toronto head coach Nick Nurse in Game 4.

    Antetokounmpo's former agent Georgios Dimitropoulos tweeted that he had "never seen anything as disrespectful as this before" in a now-deleted post, while Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said there was "no place" for the type of exuberant reactions Drake had been displaying courtside.

    Drake, who is a global ambassador for the Raptors, was watching in Toronto when his team beat the Bucks 105-99 in Milwaukee to take a 3-2 lead in the series, and he defended his antics when speaking to reporters afterwards.

    "We have the best player, we have the best fans in the whole NBA, in the whole world," he said.

    "Look around you, look at this, we created this. This didn't exist before we were here, look around at the square, this didn't exist before we were here, we did this.

    "It doesn't matter what anybody says. They can say it's disrespectful, they can say, it's this, it's that.

    "Everybody's within the rules, everybody's doing their thing. All we are is proud and passionate. We are like a college sports team - the Toronto Raptors are a college sports team, I promise you.

    "I love Toronto, I love this team and we're going to the NBA Finals."

    While the 32-year-old was not in Milwaukee, the Bucks' owner's daughter Mallory Edens was sat courtside wearing a t-shirt of Pusha T, a rapper with whom Drake has had a feud with.

    That was clearly noticed by Drake, who changed his Instagram avatar to a picture of Edens after the game.

    He also uploaded a picture of Edens onto his story with the caption "All is fair in war and war and trust me I'll still get you tickets to ovo fest".

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