The Toronto Raptors had the Milwaukee Bucks just where they wanted them in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night, taking an 83-76 lead into the final stanza, but a 32-17 fourth-quarter collapse did them in.
The Raptors have to win at least one road game to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time in team history, and they had an opportunity in Game 1. However, the defensively stout Bucks didn't finish with the best record in the NBA because they succumb every time they face a deficit.
Now, Toronto will have to hope it can finish stronger in Game 2.
Game 2 Information
Date: Friday, May 17
Odds: Milwaukee -7 (per VegasInsider.com)
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Milwaukee received a remarkable game from center Brook Lopez, who scored a playoff career-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds and four blocks. MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo registered 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals.
Afterward, Antetokounmpo said the Bucks have more work to do: "We're happy. But at the end of the day, our job is not done. We gotta protect our home. We gotta be able to get Game 2."
The Raptors offense fell out of sync in Game 1. While Kyle Lowry made five of his seven field-goal attempts, his teammates went 0-of-15 in the final period.
The Raptors potentially have three more opportunities to win in Milwaukee, and head coach Nick Nurse is looking at the positives: "We gave ourselves a chance to win a game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals. It didn't turn out, and we put in a lot of work, but you're going to file that one away and put in more work the next time."
Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 31 points, and Lowry added 30. Pascal Siakam had 15 points, but he went just 6-of-20, and the Raptors will need a better effort from him and Marc Gasol (2-of-11 for six points in 40 minutes).
Of note, Milwaukee had been off since eliminating the Boston Celtics on May 8.
Look for both teams to improve their shooting from Game 1 (37.0 percent for Toronto, 39.8 for Milwaukee).
Leonard connected on just 10 of 26 shots, including 1-of-5 from three. After his heroics in hitting the series-winning shot against the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, there's every reason to think he's capable of a better performance Friday.
Antetokounmpo should also improve upon his 7-of-16 showing. While the Bucks may not get another 29-point effort from Lopez, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe should be much bigger factors after combining for just 20 points in Game 1.
The Bucks got a scare in Game 1, and that should ensure a more consistent effort. Milwaukee wins Game 2 by at least 10.