Gassed and hands on knees, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed signs of tiredness after helping the Bucks come back from what was once a 25-point Toronto lead. The young Bucks with veteran leadership from Jason Terry and championship experience from Matthew Delledova kept the balance in the Bucks coke back run.
The Raptors started the 3rd quarter up 13 points from the half. Their lead would extend to 25 points and it appeared that Toronto was headed back north to rest a few days before starting the second series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was not without a fight the relentless Bucks would eventually lead the game again on a Jason Terry three-point shot with 3:08 left int he fourth quarter. This was the first Bucks lead since early in the first quarter.
With 1:27 left in the game Corey Joseph was found open in the corner for an open three and the Raptors would never trailed again. It was DeMar DeRozan finally sealing the game with a driving and dunk with under a minute left which put the Raptors up by five points. DeRozan led all Raptors with 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the field.
Antetokounmpo would finish with 34 points and nine rebounds. The young 22-year old was visibility exhausted with his hands on his knees in between free-throws in the fourth quarter. He would not sit however, and played a total of 46 minutes. The ball movement for the Bucks improved in the second half as they found open shooters and were able to force turnovers for transition baskets. A 9-0 run in the fourth quarter helped the Bucks take a two point lead late.
The Raptors improve in not playing a game seven for the first time in the last three years in the first-round of the playoffs. While the size of Milwaukee hindered some of the Toronto backcourt the adjustments to overcome some early poor shooting in the series was made. Toronto also saw a coming out for Norman Powell who can provide defensive energy and in game five was an offensive boost with 25 points.
Toronto will head back to “The Six” before quickly preparing to head down south to Cleveland. A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals will be earlier this year as the two teams square off in the next round.
The Bucks will enter the off-season with a young core and rising star in “The Greek Freak”. As Jabari Parker went down with a season ending knee injury the void was filled by the return of Khris Middleton from injury and rookie Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon will be a candidate for Rookie of Year alongside Joel Embiid. In this third year as Head Coach, Jason Kidd has led his team into the playoffs two of the three years at the helm. The Bucks finished 42-40 which is a nine game improvement over last season’s record.
Baseline Times Staff Writer
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