The Milwaukee Bucks seemed to be on the verge of losing their second straight series on Wednesday night, but Brook Lopez decided he would not allow this to happen. The center of Milwaukee went for 29 points and 11 rebounds, beating 4-of-11 3-pointers in the victory of the 108-100 game 1 of the Bucks over the Toronto Raptors.
Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in the victory, while Kawhi Leonard's 31 points and Kyle Lowry's 30 points stimulated Toronto. Lowry played one of the best playoffs of his career, but it wasn't enough for his team to win.
The Raptors, who have a history of abandoning Game 1 in the playoffs, will try to equalize the series on Friday when they face the Bucks in Game 2.
Here is all you need to know about the 2019 Eastern Conference finals:
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 2 Toronto Raptors
How to watch the game 2
- Date: Friday 17 May
- Time: 8:30 ET
- Position: Fiserv Forum – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- TV channel: TNT
- Live statistics: GameTracker
- Online streaming: fuboTV (try it for free)
- Chance: Will update when available
All games of the Eastern Conference finals will be broadcast on TNT. Games on TNT can be played via fuboTV (try it for free).
Playoff series program, results
Milwaukee leads series, 1-0
* All times eastern
- Game 1 (in MIL): Bucks 108, Raptors 100 (Box Score)
- Game 2 (in MIL): Fri, May 17, 8:30 pm – TV: TNT
- Game 3 (at the TOR): Sun., May 19, 7 p.m. – TV: TNT
- Game 4 (at the TOR): Tuesday, May 21, 8:30 pm – TV: TNT
- Game 5 * (in MIL): Thu, May 23, 8:30 pm – TV: TNT
- Game 6 * (at TOR): Saturday, May 25, 8:30 pm – TV: TNT
- Game 7 * (at MIL): Mon, 27 May, 8:30 pm – TV: TNT
Odds and Analysis
Check the Sportsline NBA collection sheet for all your daily odds.
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Raptors: When Masai Ujiri pulled the blockbuster trigger to acquire Kawhi Leonard last summer, he did so with the hope that Leonard would take the Raptors to the playoff levels they had failed to reach with DeMar DeRozan. With Leonard destined to become a free agent this summer, it was a huge risk. But now, after the heroes of their protagonist in game 7 against the Sixers, it's just a series of distance from the payment. If Leonard manages to resume his game and lead the Raptors over the Bucks, he will reach the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history.
Bucks: Just like the Raptors, the Bucks have undergone many changes this summer. But instead of acquiring a top-five player in the league, they rebuilt what they already had. Mike Budenholzer arrived as the new head coach, reorganized the Bucks offense to provide spacing and shooting around Giannis Antetokounmpo and built an elite defense from the other side of the floor. Even the leaders of Milwaukee did not expect things to go so well, since they achieved the best record in the regular season and are now four victories since their first trip to the Final since 1974.
Matchup to watch
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo against Kawhi Leonard: This will not be a real one-to-one match, because even if you look at one another at the points, neither is the team's main defensive option against the other. However, it is an important match, in the sense that these are two of the five best players in the league, and will define the way this series takes place.
They are both two players able to influence the game on both sides of the ball, and even though Leonard is more versatile in the offensive end, sometimes they are both unstoppable. Neither team can expect to close the star of the other, but the extent to which it can limit the damage they do will go very far.
Each team needs its star to show up in style, but especially the Raptors, whose supporting cast was unreliable at times during the first two rounds. If Leonard does not marry at least with Giannis, it is difficult to see how the Raptors would advance.
2. Eric Bledsoe v Kyle Lowry: These two have had a good deal of playoff fights, both in the past and this season. But they are all vital to their team and when they play well, so does their team. In a series that will present a series of key individual combinations, this is one of the most important.
During the four regular season matches between these two teams – three of which were won by the Bucks – Bledsoe was a real threat to defensive end against Lowry. The playmaker Raptors didn't make a single shot while being watched by Bledsoe, going to 0 out of 11 out of 122 possessions, according to the NBA match-up data. This simply cannot happen in this series. As Kawhi Leonard also played, he needs help from his supporting cast, and Lowry in particular. The score is not the only aspect of Lowry's game, but he needs to score more than the 6.3 points per game he did in the regular season meetings for the Raptors to get a chance.
3. Three-point shooting: Anyone who had seen the Bucks in recent seasons knew that the team needed to add more shots to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Well, this season they went all in that plan and developed one of the most powerful 3-point bouts in the league, increasing by almost 40 seconds per game in the regular season. In reality, they don't have many elites out of the shooter but they have more than half a dozen guys who are both available and able to fly it, and can overwhelm teams when they get hot.
On the other hand, the Raptors have a more balanced offense. They don't avoid the 3 in the way they do the Spurs or the Sixers, but it's not the focal point of their attack. Furthermore, they were off the field in the postseason, making only 32.7% of their attempts, which is by far the worst of the four remaining teams. They will have to start knocking down some shots from the outside even though, as we saw in the Boston series, it's terribly difficult to beat the Bucks when you can't hit 3s.
Forecast of the series
Bucks in five. This is another exciting series in what has been a stellar of the Eastern Conference playoffs. These were the two best teams in the East throughout the season, and now they meet with a trip to the final on the line. But as the Raptors were this season, the Bucks were always a little better, and they will prove it in this series. Even if the two stars cancel each other out, the Bucks have a better supporting cast and more shooting.