Nigerian-born basketball star, Giannis Adetokunbo (Antetokounmpo) was kept quiet to a large extent, but still motivated Milwaukee Bucks to victory over Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the 2019 NBA play-offs East Coast finals.
Toronto started hot, but Milwaukee were cold, as they shot 3-for-15 from beyond the arc in the opening frame and sub-40 percent from the field in the first half, to eke out a eight-point margin victory.
Toronto weathered an early storm, including Antetokounmpo’s massive transition dunk, and rattled off a 16-0 run that featured 3-pointers from almost every starter, during a 10-0 run that closed out a 108-100 win.
The Bucks gave up more 3’s than anyone this season, and their early strategy of sagging off the Raptors paid off about as well as it did in Game 1 of their last series against the Boston Celtics.
Antetokounmpo had 13 points and nine rebounds at the break, but he wasn’t making an MVP impact, as Toronto held Milwaukee’s superstar in check, which for him still meant 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
The end result was a blown opportunity by the second-seeded Raptors to steal home-court advantage, and it was the sort of soul-crushing loss that can bleed into another.
Toronto’s defense threw everything and everyone at him, even playing a 3-2 zone, and it helped that Leonard got away with clobbering Giannis at the rim as the buzzer sounded on the Raptors’ 59-51 halftime edge.
Toronto did well to respond to Milwaukee’s runs, quieting the crowd when flurries from Lopez and Eric Bledsoe brought Bucks within a single possession midway through the second and third quarters, respectively.
The Raptors’ defense tightened, and Antetokounmpo’s supporting cast went quiet for long stretches. Bledsoe finished the first half scoreless.
Middleton, Nikola Mirotic, George Hill and Pat Connaughton were a combined 0-for-15 from 3 through three quarters, but only Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon gave Antetokounmpo any major form of help.