It was only a week ago that Milwaukee held a 2-0 advantage over Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals. Kawhi Leonard was surely leaving the Raptors, and analysts were prepping their blogs for a Bucks-Warriors NBA Finals. Oh, how things have changed.
The Eastern Conference finals return north of the border Saturday night with Toronto just one win away from its first NBA Finals appearance. Leonard has been brilliant, historically so, while helping to shut down MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo and leading the Raptors to three straight victories over a team that had lost back-to-back games once in regular season.
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Leonard is coming off arguably his best all-around offensive performance of the year in Game 5. He finished with 35 points on 11-for-25 shooting, including 5-for-8 from 3 – his seventh outing of at least 35 points this postseason, making him only the 11th player in NBA history to do so. His career-high nine assists also paid huge dividends as each one led to a 3-point field goal from a teammate.
Leonard’s most valuable asset thus far, however, may be his defense, specifically reducing the impact Antetokounmpo makes on the game. During the first two games of the series, Pascal Siakam was the primary defender on the Bucks superstar. In Games 3-5, Leonard took the job. Antetokounmpo is 11 for 31 from the field and has committed five turnovers in the 131 offensive possessions Leonard has guarded him.
The key to Milwaukee forcing a Game 7 may be its bench. Since outscoring Toronto’s backups 76-51 in Games 1 and 2, the Raptors’ reserves have outscored the Bucks’ bench by 18 points in the next three games. George Hill and Pat Connaughton are among those who must step up to relieve some of the pressure on Antetokounmpo.
Sporting News is tracking live scoring updates and highlights from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bucks and Raptors. Follow along below.
Bucks vs. Raptors: Live score, updates from Game 6
(All times Eastern.)
9:17 p.m.: A Siakam runner cuts the lead to single digits with 4:40 to play.
9:09 p.m.: Ilyasova hits another 3 and the Bucks have their largest lead of the night (15).
9:07 p.m.: Leonard is already up to four turnovers this half.
9:02 p.m.: A Fred VanVleet 3 ends a 17-2 Milwaukee run.
End of first quarter: Bucks 31, Raptors 18
8:57 p.m.: All Bucks late in the quarter as Malcolm Brogdon hits his second 3 of the night. Milwaukee is 6-of-9 from 3 compared to Toronto’s 1-of-5.
8:55 p.m.: A nice block by Giannis turns into two points on the other end for Milwaukee.
8:49 p.m.: Toronto calls a timeout, down by five, with 3:04 left following a Ersan Ilyasova 3. The Bucks are 4-of-6 from deep.
8:45 p.m.: A 3 from Lowry ends an 11-0 Milwaukee run. Bucks lead by five with 5:00 to play this quarter.
8:43 p.m.: Giannis Antetokounmpo splits a pair of free throws to get on the board.
8:36 p.m.: Khris Middleton is 2-of-2 from 3.
8:35 p.m.: Kawhi’s on the board, just a little over two minutes into the game.
8:33 p.m.: Toronto wins the tip, and Kyle Lowry scores the opening basket.
8:27 p.m.: It appears as though the Toronto fans are ready.
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