TORONTO | The Milwaukee Bucks dropped Game 3 to the Toronto Raptors in double-overtime on Sunday night.
Player of the game: Kawhi Leonard
Leonard was given the assignment to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo and he did a great job forcing the Greek Freak into difficult situations. Leonard also did plenty on the offensive end. He played a playoff-career-high 52 minutes scoring 36 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.
“Yeah, I think first of all, his defense was probably the biggest key of the game,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said about Leonard. “Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and breakaways. Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while, and any time you can get a steal and a breakout, it’s a huge momentum play. But yea, he was good.”
People talk about Leonard as one of the best two-way players in the NBA, so it was no surprise to witness the monster game he had Sunday night. Leonard has performed at a high level on the grandest stage, so you must expect him to perform in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee can’t stop Leonard, but Giannis can cancel him out and he didn’t do that in Game 3.
Play of the game: Pascal Siakam denies Brook Lopez
In a crucial point late in the second overtime, Lopez drove to the basket but was met by the weak-side help of Siakam who sent the attempt back. Toronto went on to finish it off to avoid a possible sweep.
Siakam finally had a complete game. He always brings the intensity and energy on the defensive end, but he was one of the guys who got Toronto going early offensively. A most-improved player of the year candidate, Siakam finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.
The good: George Hill
Hill was the best player on the floor for the Bucks and it doesn’t feel like this is the first time I’m saying this in this postseason alone. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Hill always seemed to hit a big shot when Milwaukee really needed it and kept them in the game all the way until the end.
Budenholzer talked about what Eric Bledsoe can learn from Hill’s play. “I think they’re such good friends,” Budenholzer said. “They spend so much time together away from the court. When George plays well, he’s like his biggest fan. I think George is playing with a lot of aggressiveness. Like you said, he’s playing with a lot of force and attacking. And I think when Bled does those things, that’s when he’s at his best. I think just like the entire group, I think Bled will be better in Game 4. I’ve got a lot of confidence.”
The bench followed Hill’s lead all night. Malcolm Brogdon was terrific as well. He had 20 points in 37 minutes of play. Both Hill and Brogdon saw time defending Leonard also.
“I feel great,” Brogdon said. “I feel as though my role has been to come in, bring a spark, be the fresh legs on the team, bring the energy. I feel like I’ve done that for the most part. But we lost the game tonight, so I think all of us have a bigger role to play.”
The not so good: Giannis Antetokounmpo and the starters
This was one of the worst games I’ve seen Giannis play. Give credit to Toronto, they made it difficult on him. Almost every time Giannis touched the ball the Raptors would send a defender over to double team causing him to make bad decisions leading to eight turnovers.
Giannis had just 12 points on 5-16 shooting and fouled out early in the second overtime period.
The rest of the starters weren’t much better. Brook Lopez was the only bright spot leading the way for the starting five with 16 points. However, Bledsoe (11 points, 3-16 FG), Nikola Mirotic (10 points, 3-11 FG) and Khris Middleton (9 points, 3-16 FG) struggled hitting shots.
“We don’t really worry about guys making shots or missing shots,” Hill said of the starters. “It’s just one of those games where they didn’t make them today. We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as it was. But I know it’s sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11 of 48 or something like that. We’re not worried about it. We know they’re going to come to play next game. They’re super competitive. They’re super professional. Just keep moving forward.”
Stat of the game: 66.7% FT shooting
If just one more free throw fell, we may be talking about a Bucks win. They shot 22-33 (66.7%) from the foul line. Giannis was just 2-7 from the free throw line and missed several late in the game.
What they said:
Budenholzer on the loss…
I feel like we gave ourselves several chances. We weren’t able to get over the hump. Give them credit. As a group, they played well. A couple guys really stepped up for them. I think there’s lots of opportunity for us to look at how we can get better collectively, how we can be better going into Game 4. I think we look forward to that.
Nurse on the win…
I think just in general, we played with a much tougher mindset. I thought we were kind of gritty and we didn’t really have much choice there. Those guys had to roll those minutes, and they kept on playing and fighting and doing everything they could to keep us in the game and make plays.
The Bucks (2-1) will look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Raptors (1-2) in Toronto on Tuesday. Tip-off at 7:30pm.