3. One game away
The Toronto Raptors are one game away from the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance. In league history, the winner of a pivotal Game 5 in a best-of-seven series tied 2-2 has gone on to win the series 82 percent of the time, per NBA.com.
How do you win playoff road games, when your team shoots 31-for-84 (36.9 percent) from the field? Defense and clutch play from your team’s superstar. After the Bucks took a double-digit lead at the end of the first frame, they were held to 67 points for the next three frames. Toronto had 83 points in final three quarters.
The clutch plays were in the start of the fourth quarter, when the Raptors went on a 10-0 run that turned a two-point deficit into a eight-point lead. Even though the Bucks were able to tie the game up again, the Raptors were in control and regained the lead on the next possession. Gasol and Siakam were fantastic for the Raptors in the fourth quarter on the defensive end.
They were able to generate a combined four blocks in the final frame, protecting the paint from Giannis. Siakam had one of the best defensive plays when he forced Brogdon to lose the ball out of bounds and give his team an extra possession to extend the lead. Gasol had all four of his points in the last five minutes of regulation, shooting 0-for-5 before his first made bucket.
Despite the shooting woes, the team’s intensity and discipline on the defensive end did not waver. That is the recipe to going to the NBA Finals, and the Raptors are now one win away.