Bucks out of National Basketball Association playoffs despite Aussies' best efforts

Paterniano Del Favero
Aprile 30, 2017

For those exhausted of the emotional roller coaster and looking for reasons to maintain their faith in what this Raptors team is capable of, re-watching the first two and a half quarters of Game 6 will certainly make that easier. Antetokounmpo hit a 3-pointer with 3:13 left to get the Bucks within 19 and Khris Middleton (19 points) followed a Toronto turnover with another 3 as Milwaukee closed the quarter on a 15-3 run to make it a a 74-61 game heading to the fourth.

After winning their first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Toronto Raptors are preparing to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Along the way the Raptors passed multiple tests, their composure tested to the limit in what would become a series-clinching 92-89 win.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey made a key lineup change in Game 4, inserting second-year guard Norman Powell into the starting lineup in place of big man Jonas Valanciunas.

They will now play LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight year.

The Raptors almost blew a 25-point lead as the Bucks outscored the visiting team 28-18 in the final quarter. If a few more of those had gone in, or if Toronto guard Cory Joseph hadn't made a crucial 3-pointer, the Bucks could have forced a seventh game.

"Most of all, understand what got us the lead and not think it's over". The franchise hasn't won a playoff series since advancing to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001. Maybe the lesson of this Milwaukee series was that the Raptors have more than one way to beat teams, and are ready for this. In a closeout Game 6, it was Tony Parker who made that all go away. The Raptors' leading scorer had 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting, along with five steals. "They bounced back after Game 3, and that's what we're going to try to do", forward Giannis Antetokounmpo told reporters. He repeatedly tore through the Toronto defense to get to the lane, finishing with 34 points.

But then Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Matthew Dellavedova, Jason Terry and Greg Monroe - nearly by themselves - stormed all the way back. They fought back, causing the crowd to come alive with each basket and every stop. They had so much success up to that point with throwing quick passes, finding cutters and scoring on pick-and-rolls.

Earlier in the night the Bucks' mascot got a little too excited when a spectator in Toronto colours refused a smooch with a female spectator sitting next to him.

"I handled it well".

This game didn't teach us anything we didn't already know or strongly suspect about Antetokounmpo becoming a superstar.

Both teams were exhausted in the final few minutes, especially the Bucks. In between a layup with 2:49 remaining in the third quarter and another one with 2:53 left in the fourth, DeRozan's only point was a free throw after a technical foul.

Offensive toughness has been a season-long issue with the Raptors, but they somehow survived against the Bucks.

"Hopefully we focus more on how we got the lead", Patterson said. "At the end of the day, I loved our resiliency". I love that our guys didn't cave in. Speaking of the All-Star PG, he was quiet with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists, one block, two steals, and one 3-pointer in 44 minutes, and he was spotted getting some treatment on his back during the game.

Game 2: Toronro at Cleveland.

We lost two more teams on Thursday night to the National Basketball Association playoffs. They're used to being doubted. "We got to the stripe and we just couldn't capitalize on that".

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