#WeTheNorth apparently doesn’t fear deer. Like, at all
All season long, NBA fans have drawn comparisons between this Milwaukee Bucks team and the Cleveland Cavaliers when Lebron James was on the come up.
A mid-market team with a superstar player taking the league by storm.
It seems those comparisons are becoming more apt, as the seemingly overwhelmed Bucks and their superstar showed their youth in blowing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on their home court.
Milwaukee jumped out to an 18-4 lead in the first 5 minutes of the game. But Toronto remained poised and kept chipping away at the lead. Even being down 10 after the first quarter somehow seemed like a victory.
It felt like the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals, as the Cleveland Cavaliers had the magical season where everything went right. They kept jumping out to big leads over the Orlando Magic game after game. And somehow the Magic kept fighting back until they eventually imposed their will over the Cavs and Lebron.
Giannis Antetokounmpo seemed lost and confused on how to attack the Raptors in Game 5. It started earlier in this series, but his lack of playoff experience stuck out more in this game than at any other time this postseason. Kawhi Leonard, on the other hand, looked calm and poised. The Raptors bench and role players also helped him with big shots late in the game to ease his burden.
Meanwhile, the Bucks turned the ball over and gave up unfortunate offensive rebounds to the Raptors.
The Raptors now head back to Canada with a 3-2 lead in the series with a 105-99 win over Milwaukee.
Kawhi did Kawhi things with 35 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds in 40 minutes. His back-to-back 3-pointers in the fourth quarter seemed to put the game in the Raptors back pocket, as Milwaukee’s shooters just couldn’t find their stroke all night long.
Fred VanVleet also returned to basketball in this game with an astounding 21 points on 7-9 shooting on his 3s. It was Nick Nurse who called on VanVleet to take crunch time minutes from Danny Green (0 points in 15 minutes). The call to ride with VanVleet was a possible counter to Malcolm Brogdon’s return to the starting lineup. And it was VanVleet who made his coach look smarter for the decision.
The move helped get VanVleet going and to help the Raptors’ bench once again outplay the Bucks bench unit. I guess having a baby in between Games 4 and 5 really helps propel you to play better at basketball.
But coming full circle — the Bucks seemed to be in control of this game through 3 quarters after returning home.
Milwaukee had only lost two games in a row once this season. And this was the first time they have lost three in a row. They kept searching for someone to take, and make, a big shot down the stretch. On the other end, Kawhi knew what he wanted to do and it seeped out to the rest of his teammates.
Unless the Bucks and Giannis can figure out how they can get their shots to fall and make better decisions in the closing minutes of a tight game, their hopes for an NBA Finals berth may turn out to be Much A-Drake About Nothing.