Leonard leads Raptors to game 5 road win at Bucks, takes 3-2 series lead
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (L) battles for a rebound with Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (R) during the NBA Eastern Conference playoff game five between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, May 23, 2019. EPA/TANNEN MAURY
Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez (L) and Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (R) battle for a loose ball with Toronto Raptors forward Norman Powell (C) during the NBA Eastern Conference playoff game five between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, May 23, 2019. EPA-EFE/TANNEN MAURY
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (C) shoots during the NBA Eastern Conference playoff game five between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, May 23, 2019. EPA/TANNEN MAURY
Milwaukee, USA, May 23 (efe-epa).- Kawhi Leonard scored 35 points as the Toronto Raptors won Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals 105-99 on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Fiserv Forum on Thursday.
The victory means the Raptors now have the chance to book their place in the NBA Finals – where reigning champions Golden State Warriors await – in Game 6 in Toronto on Saturday.
After an awful start saw them in a 14-point hole, Toronto clawed their way back to take a narrow lead at half time, and went into the final quarter trailing by three points.
“We made shots and got stops on the defensive end," said Leonard, who also had seven rebounds and nine assists. “We weathered the storm and got the win.”
Fred VanVleet came off the bench to score 21 points thanks to seven three-pointers for the Raptors on a night when Kyle Lowry was limited to 17 points by a sore thumb.
It was the first time that Toronto have won three games in a Conference final. The franchise has never made it to the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 24 points and six rebounds and assists, with Eric Bledsoe adding 20, while Malcolm Brogdon had a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Having began the fourth quarter up by three, the Bucks looked on course to seal a crucial win, but a series of missed defensive rebounds in the closing minutes meant they lost their third consecutive game for the first time this season.
“We needed a couple of rebounds down the stretch," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “When we look at the film, we’ll feel like we could have gotten a couple more defensive rebounds from the 5, 4, 3 minutes mark on, maybe the end result would have been different.”
Game 6 sees the series shift to Toronto, where the Raptors could complete the upset by eliminating the top seeded team in the NBA.