Unable to generate offense throughout Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks now find themselves one game away from being sent home for the summer.
All seemed to be going according to plan for the Milwaukee Bucks following the first quarter of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals. In building up a 32-22 advantage, they held the Toronto Raptors to just 35.0 percent shooting from the field while they registered 11 assists on 12 made field goals.
Those good times would only last for so long. Instead, the game would fluctuate tremendously over the next 36 minutes. Milwaukee cobbled together a few nice buckets to extend the lead, only to see it dissipate by the Raptors striking back. The Bucks scored just 17 points in the second quarter, which allowed the opposition to close the gap.
All in all, Toronto was the team that made plays throughout, with an 83-67 advantage after the first quarter that helped them steal Game 5 on the road by the final score of 105-99. With the loss, Milwaukee now sits on the brink of elimination heading to Toronto for Game 6, its special season hanging in the balance.
With so much riding on this game, head coach Mike Budenholzer decided to switch up his starting lineup, replacing the struggling Nikola Mirotic with Malcolm Brogdon. In his first start of these playoffs, the former Rookie of the Year validated the decision with 18 points, along with 11 rebounds and six assists.
Game 5 was a chance for Giannis Antetokounmpo to add to his slowly developing legacy with an all-time performance. Instead, he was average by his MVP-level standards in scoring “just” 24 points while hauling in six boards and dishing out six assists.
The Raptors managed to get some big-time performances from all types of places. Kawhi Leonard dropped 15 of his game-high 35 points in the fourth quarter to bring the game home for Toronto. Fred VanVleet, the inconsistent backup guard who had scored just 5.8 points per game prior to Game 5, put up 21 points on a scorching 7-of-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
Milwaukee’s never faced adversity like this before, having lost back-to-back games only once during the regular season, and never three in a row before Wednesday night. It’s times like this where playoff experience may come into play for both sides. In order for the Bucks to extend the series, they’ll need to negate that by returning to the form that helped them win a league-best 60 games.