MILWAUKEE – When the final seconds of the third quarter of Games 1 in the Eastern Conference finals blew away, Toronto Raptors took Pascal Siakam's ball forward upcourt. At the last minute, and still a few steps behind the 3-point line, he rose for a shot over the outstretched arm of the Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the ball sank tightly through the net when the sum sounded. [1
Rather than taking an early lead in the series, Raptors instead saw Bucks outscore them 32-17 in the final quarter, as Milwaukee appeared with a 108-100 victory over a sellout audience here at Fiserv Forum.
"Pretty frustrating," Lowry says. "The fourth quarter killed us … They played us in the fourth quarter, they got a bit aggressive. They made some big shots, did some great games."
"It sucks when you lose so. But we had a chance. We have to learn from it, make an adaptation. [We have to] keep your voice steady … not too loud, not too low. Just watch the movie and become better. "
Fourth Quarter Comes to highlight an ugly picture. Lowry was amazing, went 5-7 off the floor and scored 14 of his 30 points in the last 12 minutes alone. The rest of the Raptors, however, were horrible. Torontas other seven players who saw time in fourth combined to go 0-in-15 from the floor, including 0-for-7 from 3-point intervals, with the only other points coming on free throws of Kawhi Leonard (two ) and Siakam (en).
"The couple key," says Leonard after finishing with 31 points but goes 0-for-3 and only scores the two points in fourth. "Missed some simple layups, some broad 3s. And we didn't play too well on the defense. … They ended up scoring their highest quarterly points in the fourth quarter. [That] sums it up pretty much."
Toronto saw it first lead that entered the fourth immediately evaporated in the opening two minutes while Leonard was on the bench. The raptors had three open looks – a Norman Powell layup, a Fred VanVleet midrange jumper from the top of the key and then a VanVleet 3 pointer from the wing – but none of them entered.
On the other hand, Milwaukee – who combined 6-for-34 from 3-point intervals in the first three quarters – just got two straight 3s from Brook Lopez (ending with a high 29 points to follow 11 rebounds and four blocks) and a couple of free throws from Nikola Mirotic to take their first lead since the beginning of the first quarter.
And while the teams went back and forth during the last few minutes – thanks to much to Lowry's heroes – after Leonard emptied two free throws to make it 100-98 with 3: 31 left, Bucks made the last 10 points for to seal the victory. Toronto I missed ts last eight shots over that range, including five 3-pointers.
Milwaukee controlled the color during the game, winning points in the color (44-26), second chance points (24-13) and fast-paced points (25-15), while converting Toronto's 12 sales to 20 points. At the same time, the Raptors Leonard or Lowry made a combined 14-in-51 off the floor.
"It will be an interesting series," says Siakam, who ended 6 to 20 from the field for 15 points, "and we know we had a chance to win tonight. We felt like we could have got this the game, but we didn't know that, and credit to them they came back and took the game from us.
"But it's a long series, and we have to bounce back and get better next match if we want to come out with a victory . "
Perhaps a fatigue from Toronto's survival was exhausted from a grueling game series with the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference semi-finals, a series won by Raptors thanks to Leonard's incredible summer beater Sunday evening. Bucks on the other hand ended Boston Celtics for five games and had one week to rest and prepare at home for this game, and Milwaukee really looked like the fresher team along the route.
From Toronto's position t, but why of this game played out as it was ultimately irrelevant. A chance to take control of this series just outside the bat had been wasted, and now Raptors have no choice but to find a way to place themselves in a similar position when these teams meet again this Friday night in Games 2 in this best of seven Business.
"Each of these games is critical," says Raptor's coach Nick Nurse. "I thought we played tough tonight, a tough brand basketball.
" We gave us a chance to win a game along the way in the Eastern Conference final. It did not turn out and we put a lot of work, but you will put it over there and put in more jobs next time. "
" We have to rest here tonight, focus on our film, figure out some adjustments, build up some self-confidence, nurse says. "But then it is time, when it is ready to go up for Game 2, we have to be tough."