Antetokounmpo leads Bucks over Raptors for 2-0 series lead
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and added 17 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a comfortable 125-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday for a 2-0 lead in their NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The top-seeded Bucks had rallied to win game one of the best-of-seven series. However, they never trailed in this game and led by as many as 28 points to double their lead in the series. The series will move to Toronto for games three and four on Sunday and Tuesday; in games that the Raptors must not lose.
“Mentally, we were ready for this game,” Antetokounmpo said. “Once the game started, we did a great job setting the tone. We knew Toronto was going to come and try to play hard and try to get one at our place.”
Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo played a crucial role in setting the tone — with a dunk, an emphatic block on Raptors centre Marc Gasol and an additional dunk in the opening minute of the contest.
“I know every night when the game starts. My teammates are looking at me,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think it definitely gave the team a lot of energy.”
Also, the Bucks ensured that the Raptors never got a sniff. They roared to an 18-point lead in the first quarter on the back of nine quick points from Nikola Mirotic and a 12-0 scoring run later in the same period.
Furthermore, Milwaukee led by 25 points and was ahead 64-39 at halftime. Ersan Ilyasova contributed 15 of his 17 before the break and Malcolm Brogdon 12 of his 14 off the Bucks’ bench in the first half.
Also, the hosts’ back-up out-scored the Raptors’ 31-11 in the first half and 54-39 overall. This summed up just how lacklustre the Raptors were in every department.
Meanwhile, six Bucks players scored double figures, and coach Mike Budenholzer said it all stemmed from Antetokounmpo.
“I think everybody fed off of Giannis and how he started the game,” Budenholzer said.
Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points. He came out firing in the third quarter, but despite his aggression, Toronto never got the difference below 13 points.
Also, Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points. He connected on just four of 13 shots from the field. Meanwhile, Norman Powell added a further 14 off the bench. However, they were the only Raptors players to score double figures.
“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “Were just a step too slow. We settled in with some space and gave them some confidence early, and you just can’t do that.”
Milwaukee notched their sixth straight win in the playoffs and their sixth post-season victory by at least 20 points; tying an NBA record.
“They’ve done what they were supposed to do and protected their home court,” Nurse said. “Now we’ve got to go and do the same.”
It is a daunting task for the Raptors, but they dare not lose Game Three. If they do, then they may as well wave goodbye to their Championship hopes.