Toronto Raptors

About last night: Milwaukee bucks one-man trend in Game 1 win

bucks_raptors_game_1_051519.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

About last night: Milwaukee bucks one-man trend in Game 1 win

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Milwaukee bucks one-man trend, beats Raptors

The more you watch the Milwaukee Bucks, the clearer it becomes they are more than just Giannis Antetokounmpo and a bunch of hanger-ons.

Because their Game 1 win over Toronto in the Eastern Conference Finals showcased a Milwaukee team that is so much more than a one-man show. Antetokounmpo (24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists) had a strong game as always, but one could argue that there were at least two players on his team - Brook Lopez (career playoff-high 29 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (15 points) - whose play was the difference in the game more so than his.

And their strong play trumped a really strong game from Toronto’s 1-2 punch of Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, who had 31 and 30 points, respectively.

The Raptors had control of the action most of the night, but got little to nothing down the stretch from Leonard who seemed to run out of gas after having played more minutes than anyone else.

The bottom line is clear. Milwaukee will win this series with ease unless Toronto either gets more contributions from its non All-Stars, or finds a way to better limit the impact of Milwaukee’s role players.

SO... THAT HAPPENED


NUMBER OF NOTE

0/15 FG (0/7 3-pt FG) -- That's what Raptors not named Kyle Lowry shot in the fourth quarter of Game 1 against the Bucks. Lowry poured in 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, but the lack of support from his teammates let Milwaukee outscore Toronto 32-17 in the final frame, turning a seven-point deficit into an eight-point victory.

THEY SAID IT

"We just don't quit as a unit. We keep hounding, keep hounding, keep hounding and grinding, and then we finally got there. There's no quit in our team. I don't think it's really in our DNA at all."
-- Bucks center Brook Lopez, after scoring a playoff career-high 29 points to go along with 11 rebounds and four blocks.

WEDNESDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Bucks 108, Raptors 100 (MIL leads series 1-0)

WHAT WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

Splash Brothers at it again?

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson absolutely torched Portland in Game 1, which wasn’t all that surprising. The number of open looks they got? Huge shocker.

Portland clearly has to make some form of adjustments in how they defend those two (they combined for 12 made 3-pointers in Game 1), especially with Kevin Durant not expected to play in what will be his third straight missed game due to the right calf injury he suffered in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston. 

For Portland, the team’s best defense might be a much-improved offense especially when you’re talking about their high-scoring backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who combined for just 36 points on 11-for-31 shooting in Game 1. The Blazers have no shot at winning if those two can not score more points going forward, and do so in a more efficient manner.

While certainly disappointed with their Game 1 performance, the good news for the Blazers and their upset-minded fan base, is they can still get what they came for in this series thus far with a win tonight, which would then swing the pendulum known as adjustments on to the side of the Warriors. 

THURSDAY'S SCHEDULE

  • Trail Blazers at Warriors, Game 2 (GS leads series 1-0) -- 9:00, ESPN

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

About last night: Blazers torched by Curry, Thompson in Game 1

steph_curry_klay_thompson_warriors.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Photo

About last night: Blazers torched by Curry, Thompson in Game 1

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Blazers' defense torched by Warriors' Curry, Thompson

Following Portland’s loss to Golden State, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had this incredulous look when he was asked why his team didn’t double-team Steph Curry akin to what the Houston Rockets did in the previous series. 

While I understand Stotts being hesitant to take any cues from Houston when it comes to defense, giving Curry and Klay Thompson a ridiculous amount of space beyond the 3-point line is basketball suicide. 

Curry alone had nine of Golden State’s 17 made 3-pointers, the kind of long-range shooting that few teams can compete with, let alone beat the Warriors when they are making that many 3’s. 

SO... THAT HAPPENED


NUMBER OF NOTE

9 — Steph Curry tied his postseason career high by hitting nine 3-pointers in Game 1 against the Blazers. He joins Klay Thompson and Ray Allen as the only players in playoff history with multiple games with at least nine 3's in a game.

THEY SAID IT

"They started calling out the numbers. We obviously got this seed sheet, and I am trying to look through it and find out our numbers. I find the first number, then the second number and then the third, and I'm like, 'Oh s---.' The fourth one comes up, I try to look at all our combinations and then they said, 'The winner is the New Orleans Pelicans.' And I said, 'F--- yeah!' And then I said, 'Excuse me, I'm sorry.'"
— Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry, after New Orleans won the NBA draft lottery (and the right to select Zion Williamson)

TUESDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Warriors 116, Trail Blazers 94 (GS leads series 1-0)

WHAT WE'LL BE WATCHING

Kawhi vs. Giannis, Round 1

The two best teams record-wise this season, led by arguably the top two players in the postseason, this series is a matchup featuring two talented squads that took very different routes to get here. 

Leonard has been an integral part of Toronto’s success all season, but he has taken upon himself even more of the scoring/rebounding/passing load as the Raptors got deeper into the postseason. 

And the game-winner he hit in Game 7 against Philadelphia with no time left will go down as the greatest shot in Raptors history, and one of the most clutch shots anyone has ever made in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo has been the front-runner for the league’s MVP award in large part because of his ability to take over games.

But in both of Milwaukee’s playoff series thus far, the contributions of those around him has been an absolute must to their success.

Look no further than Game 4 against Boston, a game in which the Bucks trailed Boston by three when Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton went to the bench with more than six minutes to play in the third quarter because of foul trouble. 

By the time they both came back to start the fourth quarter, the Bucks were sporting an eight-point lead. 

That’s why the Bucks have to be considered the favorite in this series due to their depth as well as home-court advantage by way of having the best regular-season record in the NBA this season. 

WEDNESDAY'S SCHEDULE

  • Raptors at Bucks, Game 1 — 8:30pm, TNT

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore praises NBA star Kawhi Leonard for his approach

usatsi_12695144.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore praises NBA star Kawhi Leonard for his approach

Kawhi Leonard hit the biggest shot in Toronto Raptors history on Sunday night to lead his team past the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of its second-round NBA playoff series.

He dribbled to the baseline, shot over 76ers center Joel Embiid and got a couple of lucky bounces on the rim to hit a series-winning basket at the buzzer.

Leonard is an interesting star. He doesn't show a ton of emotion on the court, he doesn't have much of a social media presence and he doesn't star in tons of commercials. For someone who's consistently viewed as one of the top two or three players in the world when healthy, it's quite unusual for a superstar to keep such a low profile.

One athlete who respects Leonard's approach to handling stardom is New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who tweeted his thoughts Monday morning:

Gilmore had a fantastic season in 2018, helping lead the Patriots to a Super Bowl LIII victory over the Los Angeles Rams and a first-team All-Pro selection.

Leonard is hoping to lead the Raptors to a championship of their own in June, and you have to like Toronto's chances of at least reaching the NBA Finals after the resiliency it showed to eliminate the 76ers.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.