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NBA Playoffs -- Raptors aim to avoid dangerous 0-2 deficit


PhilBoxing.com





MILWAUKEE -- Going down 0-1 in a best-of-7 series is no big deal. But an 0-2 deficit is another story.

In the history of the NBA playoffs, only five of 56 teams have come back to win a series after losing the first two, a scant nine percent chance.

This is the hole the Toronto Raptors hopes to avoid falling into when they play the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Finals today at the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee.

The question is, can they?

Who knows?

What is clear though is that the Raptors have the proven tools to get it done. An All-Star leader in Kawhi Leonard and a veteran-laden support cast that helped Toronto secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference with a 58-24 record, just a shade below the league-leading 60-22 Bucks.

Thanks to an aggressive start and a discriminating defense, the Raptors led almost wire-to-wire in Game 1 and were ahead 83-76 heading into the fourth quarter. And that's when disaster struck.

In those final 12 minutes. the Raptors were outscored 32-17. Only Kyle Lowry, who dropped 17 of his 30 points, scored while his teammates chucked one clunker after another, 0-for-15. They can't go through such epic drought to have a chance in Game 2.

"They had a lot of clean, open looks in the second half and we got to limit that," Leonard said of the Bucks, who overcame a horrid shooting in which they missed 56 of 93 field goals and made only 11 of 44 triples (25 percent).

Leonard accounted for 31 points, but he went 0-for-3 in the fourth quarter where Milwaukee made their surge.
To steal Game 2 and even this series,the Raptors must convert their shots at a more efficient rate after hitting only 34 of 94 from the field in Game 1.

Easier said than done.

The Bucks have so much length in a starting five that is headlined by 7-foot Brook Lopez, 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo, 6-foot-10 Nikola Mirotic and 6-foot-8 Khris Middleton. Eric Bledsoe, a short but streaky 6-foot-1 point guard, rounds up the cast.

Lopez was superb in Game 1. He supplied the offense with 29 points while his defense and four blocked shots helped contribute to Toronto's shooting woes. Lopez hit a momentum-turning triple that allowed Milwaukee to corral a 104-100 advantage in the final 1:55 of action.

The Greek Freak had a relatively quiet 24 points and 14 rebounds, making seven of just 16 field goals. But he is always a lit firework and if he explodes in Game 2, things could get real ugly really quick for the visiting Raptors.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Taha Qureshi.


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