The Milwaukee Bucks struggled a bit in Game 1 of their conference finals matchup against the Toronto Raptors. Although they were off for nearly a week, they emerged victorious 108-100 despite shooting 39.8 percent from the field.
The Bucks would need a better effort in Game 2 to avoid a 1-1 split heading to Toronto. Fortunately, that is exactly what took place. From the offset, the Bucks imposed their will on their opponent.
After scoring the first nine points of the game, the Bucks led 35-21 after the first quarter. Their dominant play continued into the second period as they took a 64-39 lead into halftime. This was significant being that Giannis Antetokounmpo was only the team’s fourth leading scorer at intermission.
While the Raptors were down big, they didn’t give up easily, as they outscored the Bucks 38-31 in the third period. However, when it was all said and done, the Bucks cruised to a 125-103 victory. And as a result, they lead this best of seven series 2-0.
In the end, Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 30 points, 17 rebounds, and five assists to go along with two blocks. Nikola Mirotic scored 15 points, while Khris Middleton also chipped in with 12 points. While the Bucks top players did their part, it was the bench that was the difference-maker in this contest.
Ersan Ilyasova came into this series averaging less than seven points per outing. In Game 2, though, he scored 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field. Malcolm Brogdon, who just recently returned to the team’s rotation, scored 14 points. Another player who had solid performance off the bench was George Hill.
He scored 13 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out two assists. Moreover, the Bucks placed six players in double figures. Three of those players came off the bench.
The Milwaukee Bucks still have to win two games to reach the Finals for the first time in 45 years. However, this series is all but over for a couple of reasons. First, the Raptors can’t stop Antetokounmpo. Secondly, the Bucks have more depth both in the starting lineup and the bench.
Meanwhile, the Raptors have to rely heavily on Kawhi Leonard to have any chance of getting back into this series. But as was the case in Game 2, Leonard can’t do it by himself. Based on these trends, it’s safe to say that the Bucks will represent the East in the NBA Finals this year.