TORONTO | The Milwaukee Bucks had their season put to an end falling in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Toronto Raptors 100-94.
Player of the game: Kawhi Leonard
Leonard was the best player on the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals. He performed at the highest level. The Claw went for a game-high 27 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out seven dimes. He also spent most of the game defending Giannis Antetokounmpo holding him to 21 points (7-18 FG).
The Raptors’ superstar continues to prove that he is still one of the best two-way players in the league today. He has put up incredible numbers throughout the entire postseason and should continue his historic play in the NBA Finals.
Raptors’ president Masai Ujiri praised Leonard after the win saying, “He’s the best player in the league.”
Leonard responded, “I don’t really judge my game like that. I’m more of a team aspect, see what my team is doing. I just want to win. I don’t care about being the best player. I want to be the best team. I’ve always said that. Just before the season when we made the trade, Masai felt that way about me. He told me how he felt and why he made the trade. It’s turning out well now. We’re in the Finals, and we’re not done yet.”
Play of the game: Leonard dunks on Giannis
This play put a stamp on the game and the series.
The good: The start
It was another promising start for the Bucks as they jumped out to a 13-point first quarter lead. They looked fresh and hungry knocking down shots and playing excellent defense. This wasn’t the first time this series they got out to an early lead but just like in past games, they couldn’t hold it.
The not so good: The finish
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong for the Bucks over the final 14 minutes of the game. The Raptors finished the third quarter on a 10-0 run. They continued the run into the fourth going on a 26-3 run.
“Obviously we were playing real well in the first half,” Giannis said. We know Toronto is a great team and they’re going to make runs. But the team just tried to stay focused and tried to move the ball, trust one another and execute. We knew that they were going to make a run. But obviously we weren’t able to rebound the ball and get out in transition and get the easy points. That’s why we lost the lead.”
Toronto outscored Milwaukee 29-18 in the final frame.
The Bucks tried to battle all the way to the end, but they just didn’t have enough. Offensive rebounds hurt their chances down the stretch. Also, a questionable decision with under 30 seconds left and Raptors ball, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer elected not to foul. The possession ended in a missed shot by Pascal Siakam, but the rebound went back to the home team. That would pretty much wrap it up.
Stat of the game: 4th straight loss
I know this is an end result and not necessarily a stat, but it needs to be stated. This season, Milwaukee never lost more than two games in a row up until this point. After taking a 2-0 series lead over the Raptors, the Bucks lost four straight games. That may be the most shocking thing to happen.
Bucks’ fans, including this one, thought they had the series in the bag. We all were already planning our trip to California for the Finals. Toronto had other plans and put a sour taste in the mouth of every Milwaukee fan.
What they said:
Budenholzer on the loss and the season…
I’d just like to start by congratulating Nick Nurse and his staff and the Toronto Raptors and all their players, their organization. Congratulations to them. They did a heck of a job.
It’s hard to put into words how you feel when a season like this ends. I’ll save most of it for the team, but I’ll say I couldn’t be more proud of the way our guys compete, the way they play every night, the way they conduct themselves. This hurts, but what they did in this playoffs, tonight against a really good Toronto Raptor team, and to get to the Conference Finals, the regular season, special season for us. And we feel like we’re just getting started. This is the beginning of our journey. And again, I couldn’t be more proud of our team.
I would like to thank Jon Horst and the front office and the job that they did in this setting, in this environment, the roster and everything they did to put together a team that could compete at this level. I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful and appreciative of what Jon Horst, the front office does, what the ownership does. So I just wanted to say that here in this setting.
Khris Middleton on the steps that this team made this season…
Yeah, I think we had a great year, 60 wins, one of the best teams in NBA history. Got past the first round, which we struggled with for a long time. Just fell short of our goals. We were right there. I think all in all it was a great season, but we still fell short.
Giannis on what he ended up taking from this series…
Man, obviously when you’re up 2-0, that doesn’t mean nothing. You’ve got to learn how to come out and close out games, especially after Game 3. We’ve got to get better as a team, and we’ve got to get better individually. I think it’s just the start of a long journey. We’re going to get better. We’re going to come back next year and believe in who we are, believe in what we’ve built this year, and hopefully we can be in the same situation and be the ones moving forward.
The 2018-19 season is officially over for the Bucks. They will now look ahead to next season and try to build on the success they had this year.