Bucks dominate Raptors, take commanding 2-0 series lead | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Bucks dominate Raptors, take commanding 2-0 series lead

Associated Press
1176579_web1_1176579-cd7de9dd5e10421a857dbe731d2f5cc6
AP
The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors on Friday, May 17, 2019, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 125-103 to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
1176579_web1_1176579-b1e244479f0c43fb88be5cb6e63ea064
AP
The Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard shoots between the Bucks’ Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova during the second half of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Friday, May 17, 2019, in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 17 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova came off the bench to add 17 points, and the Milwaukee Bucks never trailed on the way to beating the Toronto Raptors, 125-103, on Friday night and taking a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the fourth for the Bucks, who wound up with six players in double figures — three of them reserves. Nikola Mirotic scored 15, Malcolm Brogdon had 14, George Hill 13 and Khris Middleton 12.

Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points for Toronto, which gave up the game’s first nine points and trailed by double digits for the final 39 minutes. Kyle Lowry scored 15, and Norman Powell had 14 for the Raptors.

Game 3 is Sunday in Toronto.

Milwaukee, which led the NBA with a 60-22 record during the regular season, became the 16th team to start a playoff run with at least 10 victories in its first 11 games. Only three teams — the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers, the 2001 Lakers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors — started a postseason 11-0.

The Bucks led by as many as 28 before Toronto did just enough, chipping away to keep some semblance of hope.

Eventually, Antetokounmpo decided enough was enough.

With 5 minutes, 51 seconds left to play, Antetokounmpo backed Leonard down on the block, spun back toward the center of the lane, scored while getting hit and starting a three-point play.

He yelled to the crowd and punched the air.

The knockout blow was landed, and soon, the Bucks moved two wins away from their first NBA Finals berth in 45 years.

Milwaukee had a big rebounding edge for the second straight game — 60-46 in Game 1, 53-40 in Game 2 — and finished with only seven turnovers.

“When the game started, we did a great job setting the tone,” Antetokounmpo said.

The tone never changed, either.

Toronto was down 21 when Lowry got his third foul with 1:27 left until the break. The Raptors left Lowry in. He wound up getting his fourth foul while battling Mirotic for a rebound 24 seconds later and let the referees have an earful as he headed to the bench. Another roll of the dice didn’t pay off, either as Raptors forward Pascal Siakam got his fourth shortly after halftime, then got his fifth with 9:26 left in the third.

They weren’t happy.

They shouldn’t have been, but this wasn’t about calls.

It was just a rout.

Milwaukee’s lead was 35-21 after the first, 64-39 at the half. It was the first time Toronto had been outscored by 10 or more points in each of a game’s first two quarters since May 25, 2016, against Cleveland and the 25-point halftime hole was, by far, the Raptors’ worst of the season. They trailed Houston 55-37 on March 5.

Antetokounmpo started the second half with a three-point play, pushing the lead to 28.

That’s when Toronto found a bit of a groove.

The Raptors outscored Milwaukee 31-16 over the next nine minutes, getting within 83-70 on a 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet. But a quick flurry by the Bucks restored order. Brogdon rebounded his own miss and scored, then set up George Hill for a score in transition, and Hill scored again off a Raptors turnover a few seconds later.

Just like that, the lead was back up to 19, and it was 95-78 going into the fourth.

The Bucks have never lost a series when leading 2-0. They’ve been in this spot 13 previous times. Toronto has never overcome a 2-0 series deficit in seven previous attempts.

This series has plenty of representation on the list of finalists for the NBA’s top individual awards, revealed Friday. Antetokounmpo is a finalist for MVP and Defensive Player of the Year; the Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer is a finalist for Coach of the Year. Antetokounmpo is assured of being the Bucks’ highest finisher in the MVP race since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won the award in 1974.

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.