Raptors reach first-ever NBA finals after beating Bucks 100-94
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (C) holds the NBA Eastern Conference Championship trophy at the conclusion of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals basketball game six between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA SHUTTERSTOCK OUT
Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green (L) and guard Fred VanVleet (R) defend against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece (C) in the second quarter of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals basketball game six between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA SHUTTERSTOCK OUT
Canadian rapper Drake (R) congratulates Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (L) at the conclusion of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals basketball game six between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA SHUTTERSTOCK OUT
Toronto, Canada, May 25 (efe-epa).- The Toronto Raptors made history on Saturday by winning the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks with a 100-94 victory in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series and reaching their first-ever NBA finals, to be played against Golden State Warriors.
The Raptors secured the series 4-2 on Sunday thanks to a brilliant performance by Kawhi Leonard, who stole the game from the Bucks, which looked to be cruising to an easy win at one point.
Leonard had 27 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists for the Raptors, stepping up his game in the second half after scoring just eight points before halftime.
Pascal Siakam had 18 points and four rebounds for Toronto, followed by Kyle Lowry's 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The Raptors, playing at home, scored their fourth successive win against Milwaukee on Saturday after initially trailing the playoffs 0-2.
"This (the Bucks) is a really good team, to beat this team four times in a row is almost mind-boggling," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said in the postgame interview.
Leonard, who has emerged as one of the best players of the league this season, has scored an average of 31.4 points per match in the playoffs, becoming the sixth player after Michael Jordan, Hakeen Olajuwon, Lebron James, Allen Iverson and Jerry West to score more than 31 points per match in a single postseason.
On the other hand, the Bucks, NBA's top team in the regular season, have struggled when star player Giannis Antetokounmpo has not played to his maximum potential.
Realizing this, the Raptors have focused on stifling the "Greek Freak" in recent games, with Leonard teaming up with Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka or Siakam to stop Antetokounmpo from dominating.
On Saturday, the Bucks dominated the game in the beginning, leading 31-18 at the end of the first quarter, but the Raptors improved gradually, cutting down the deficit to 43-50 by halftime despite Leonard playing below his best.
The Bucks extended their lead to 14 point in the third quarter before Leonard turned on the heat, and Toronto scored nine points within two minutes and ended the third quarter at 71-76.
They continued to dominate in the fourth, leveling scores at 78-78 two minutes into the quarter and leading 83-78 by the time eight minutes were left on the clock.
Antetokounmpo top-scored for the Bucks with 21 points and 11 rebounds, followed by Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton, who scored 18 points and 14 points respectively.
Raptors are set to host two-time defending champions Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals series on Thursday.