WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
Blakely: Raptors take control of Eastern Conference Finals
Less than a week ago, the Toronto Raptors were an overmatched, underperforming hot mess against a Milwaukee Bucks squad that was clicking on all levels.
The tide of the series has turned dramatically with the Raptors now having won three straight over Milwaukee to be within one win of advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
Kawhi Leonard continues to be arguably the best player in the postseason, and was sensational in Game 5 with 35 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
But the true difference-maker was Raptors reserve Fred VanVleet, who had 21 points, including seven 3-pointers, the same number of made 3’s by the entire Milwaukee starting five.
With steady play by veteran Kyle Lowry (17 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Pascal Siakam (14 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots), the Raptors have gone from a disaster to being a win away from venturing into unchartered territory: the NBA Finals.
Forsberg: Troll job goes to waste
Biggest disappointment for the Bucks has to be wasting the amazing troll job by owner’s daughter Mallory Edens, who wore a Pusha-T T-shirt courtside as a hilarious shot at Drake.
Well, that and losing three straight games for the first time all season. Not ideal timing there for Milwaukee.
But cyborg Kawhi Leonard continues to come up with all the big plays and his big-game experience and poise is accentuated compared to these young Bucks.
SO... THAT HAPPENED
NUMBER OF NOTE
35 — Kawhi Leonard has seven games with at least 35 points this postseason. The only other player in the last 20 years to have seven 35-point games before the NBA Finals? LeBron James, on three separate occasions.
THEY SAID IT
"This isn't the sexy answer, but from the first day of training camp we've been saying we're going to stay level. A s---ty preseason game is just gonna get written off. A great win at Golden State, same thing. A terrible game in San Antonio, 'Let's bounce back.' And we've done it all year. We've kept it even-keeled."
— Raptors head coach Nick Nurse to ESPN, on storming back to move within one game of the NBA Finals
- Raptors 105, Bucks 99 (TOR leads series 3-2)
WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING
Blakely: Durant-drama continues…
The he-said, he-said back and forth between Kevin Durant and FS1’s Chris Broussard makes for good theater.
But more than anything else, it serves as a timely distraction from what’s really going on with the Golden State Warriors.
Whether they will own it or not, his absence has in many ways brought this group closer together, a team that’s embracing the fact that they need one another more than ever with Durant’s uncertain return.
He is a brilliant basketball player, one whose presence makes the Warriors damn near unbeatable this time of year.
But the social media beef he and Broussard are involved with, only cements the perception that Durant is overly sensitive when it comes to being criticized or questioned by the media.
As I said earlier, it makes for good theatre. But Durant returning to the floor for the NBA Finals?
That’s the show that everyone is eager to see him involved with this time of year.
Forsberg: Backed against the wall
Love Giannis’ attitude after the loss, and now Game 6 can’t come soon enough.
“We're gonna come back to Milwaukee being pissed,” Giannis told reporters. Now it’s time to go show it.
The Bucks had a chance to step on Toronto’s throats early in Game 5 and let the Raptors off the ropes. Are the Bucks just not ready for the moment yet? We’ll find out when they have to fight for their lives on the road.
Selfishly, we want two more games out of this series.
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