Bucks cruise to 2-0 lead in East finals vs Raptors
MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 17 rebounds, Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to add 17 points and the Milwaukee Bucks never trailed on the way to beating the Toronto Raptors 125-103 on Friday night (Saturday morning, Philippine time) and taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the fourth for the Bucks, who wound up with six players in double figures — three of them reserves. Nikola Mirotic scored 15, Malcolm Brogdon had 14, George Hill 13 and Khris Middleton 12.
Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points for Toronto, which gave up the game’s first nine points, never led and trailed by double digits for the final 39 minutes. Kyle Lowry scored 15 and Norman Powell had 14 for the Raptors.
Game 3 is Sunday in Toronto.
Milwaukee, which led the NBA with a 60-22 record during the regular season, became the 16th team to start a playoff run with at least 10 victories in its first 11 games. Only three teams — the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers, the 2001 Lakers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — started a postseason 11-0.
The Bucks led by as many as 28, before Toronto did just enough chipping away to keep some semblance of hope.
Eventually, Antetokounmpo decided enough was enough.
With 5:51 left to play Antetokounmpo backed Leonard down on the block, spun back toward the center of the lane, scored while getting hit and starting a three-point play.
He yelled to the crowd and punched the air.
The knockout blow was landed, and soon, the Bucks moved two wins away from their first NBA Finals berth in 45 years.
Milwaukee had a big rebounding edge for the second straight game — 60-46 in Game 1, 53-40 in Game 2 — and finished with only seven turnovers.
“When the game started, we did a great job setting the tone,” Antetokounmpo said.
The tone never changed, either.
Toronto was down 21 when Lowry got his third foul with 1:27 left until the break. The Raptors left Lowry in; he wound up getting his fourth foul while battling Mirotic for a rebound 24 seconds later and let the referees have an earful as he headed to the bench. Another roll of the dice didn’t pay off, either: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam got his fourth shortly after halftime, then got his fifth with 9:26 left in the third.
They weren’t happy.
They shouldn’t have been, but this wasn’t about calls.
It was just a rout.
Milwaukee’s lead was 35-21 after the first, 64-39 at the half. It was the first time Toronto had been outscored by 10 or more points in each of a game’s first two quarters since May 25, 2016, against Cleveland and the 25-point halftime hole was, by far, the Raptors’ worst of the season. They trailed Houston 55-37 on March 5.
Antetokounmpo started the second half with a three-point play, pushing the lead to 28.
That’s when Toronto found a bit of a groove.
The Raptors outscored Milwaukee 31-16 over the next nine minutes, getting within 83-70 on a 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet. But a quick flurry by the Bucks restored order — Brogdon rebounded his own miss and scored, then set up George Hill for a score in transition, and Hill scored again off a Raptors turnover a few seconds later.
Just like that, the lead was back up to 19, and it was 95-78 going into the fourth.
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