Posted on May 22, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Winning Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals got the Toronto Raptors back in the championship conversation. But only because they were going to be forcing the Bucks to play one more game than the Golden State Warriors did.
However, after winning Game Four by a score of 120-102, it may be time to talk about Toronto as a legitimate contender again.
The Raptors had been leaning heavily on Kawhi Leonard throughout the postseason. But with his leg not 100 percent, they needed someone else to step up and lead the way—which is exactly what Kyle Lowry did.
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Lowry led the way for Toronto with 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds, but he got a lot of help from his teammates. Despite his leg issue, Leonard chipped in 19 points. Marc Gasol had a decent night with 17 points, but the real star of the show was the Toronto bench. Norman Powell led the way with 18 points followed by Serge Ibaka with 17, and Fred VanVleet added another 13.
“This was one of the nights that we knew Kawhi was a little bit limited and we had to come out and be aggressive for him,” Lowry said after the game, via ESPN.
Leonard’s health is going to factor in the rest of the series and in the NBA Finals if they make it that far. He came up limping after a dunk in the third quarter but was able to walk it off and stay in the game.
“I feel good,” Leonard insisted after the game. “I’m going to keep going and keep fighting. We have a chance to make history.”
Should the Raptors come back to win the series, they would be one of just a handful of teams to ever overcome an 0-2 series deficit.
Milwaukee jumped out in front early in the first quarter but was not able to extend the lead. That gave Toronto a chance to pull ahead in the final seconds of the quarter, 32-31. An 11-2 run to start the quarter gave the Raptors a double-digit lead early in the second. The Bucks got within five, but when the half came to an end, the Raptors had a double-digit lead once again, 65-55.
In the third, every time the Bucks would start to close the gap the Raptors would go on a quick scoring burst. Milwaukee got within six but trailed by 13-points as the third quarter came to a close, 94-81. But in the fourth, they trailed by as much as 25 and never really threatened to get back in the game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had a better night for the Bucks then he did in Game Three scoring 25 points and pulling down ten rebounds. But it was Khris Middleton that led the way with 30 points. The rest of the team didn’t do much.
If Toronto can keep playing a balanced game with so many guys contributing on offense, this series could be far from done. However, they will need to win at least one in Milwaukee, and the Bucks will not make it easy.
The Raptors will try to keep the good times rolling when the series heads back to Milwaukee for Game Five on Thursday.