NBA Playoffs – The Milwaukee Bucks seized the initiative and took down Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Toronto Raptors, 100-108. As expected it was an epic showdown between two of the world’s finest two-way players in the Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard.
Antetokounmpo made his presence felt on both ends of the court as he scored 24 points with 14 rebounds while collecting two steals and three blocks. Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points and nine rebounds on 10-of-26 shooting from the field and a perfect 10-of-10 run at the line on the night.
While both superstars nearly cancelled each other out in this one, it would be the veteran Brook Lopez of the Bucks who would stand out with an impressive vintage performance as he dropped 29 points, 11 rebounds, four 3-pointers and four blocks. His aggressiveness from both long and short range provided the Bucks with the much-needed space to operate. Former rookie of the year, Malcolm Brogdon chipped in with 15 points off the bench.
Leonard got his help from a previously quiet Kyle Lowry, who exploded for 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting with seven 3-pointers to his name. He was really feeling it tonight. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of emerging star Pascal Siakam, who was limited to scoring 15 points on dismal 6-of-20 shooting. He did chip in across multiple categories, however, the Raptors will need him to be more involved in the offense if they’re to tie up this series.
In the closing seconds of the game, Khris Middleton knocked down two go-ahead free throws to put it out of reach. And to add insult to injury, Giannis put an exclamation point on the victory with a block on a driving layup by Kyle Lowry to seal the deal.
The Bucks finished with the best record in the East and they’re proving why their defense was able to carry them throughout the regular season. The onus is now on Toronto to dig for answers. Game 2 will take place on Friday in Milwaukee.