As another NBA season is coming to an end, we’re getting closer to finding out who will enter the NBA Finals and compete for the championship. In the Western Conference, Golden State Warriors are once again demonstrating their dominance over other teams. Trailblazers trail by 3:0, with many experts predicting (even before the conference finals even started) that Game 4 will be the last game in the tie. With the Warriors steamrolling to their fifth finals in as many years as basketball fans expected, all the excitement and unpredictability of the league lies in the east.
Going 2:0 down into Game 3, Raptors knew they needed to take advantage of the home court if they wish to avoid the Blazers’ fate.
In front of their fans spurring them on, Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors managed to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks and take the tie into at least Game 5. What cost the Raptors the win in the first two games proved to be the reason behind last night’s win. With Leonard lacking support from his teammates previously, other Raptors’ players finally joined The Klaw and made an impact on the game. Pascal Siakam, who previously had only a minor role in the tie, showed up with 25 points on a 50% shot conversion from the field as well as 11 rebounds and three steals. The Raptors’ bench also played a significant role, with Norman Powell scoring 19 points off the bench. As always, Leonard led the way with 36 points, five assists, grabbing nine boards as well.
What the Raptors missed in the first two games as a team on the whole, they’ve finally managed to accomplish in Game 3, and that’s shooting for three. In the first quarter, Marc Gasol suggested a successful night for the Raptors, with two three-point shots of his going in early on. In the end, the Raptors finished the game with 17 threes at a 37.8% conversion rate, which is a step-up compared to their previous two games.
They’ve also picked it up defensively, especially when it came to the Bucks’ main player. Giannis scored just 12 points, with the home team limiting the Greek Freak to five field goals out of 16. Nonetheless, the Greek managed to be a factor in the game, with 23 rebounds, seven assists, and four blocks.
Despite statistical superiority, the Raptors struggled to separate themselves from the Bucks. On the final possession, they had a two-point lead, and everyone inside the Scotiabank Arena thought the game would end in the regulation time. However, after Fred Van Vleet blocked Khris Middleton’s attempt, Khash Money picked up an offensive rebound and scored with 2.2 seconds on the clock, forcing the game into overtime.
Even then, it took the home team two five-minute periods to overcome the Bucks. They’ve made a difference in the second overtime, which started with Giannis fouling out after trying to stop Siakam’s charge. Afterward, it proved to be an easier task for the Toronto franchise as they scored 15 points in the second OT. Leonard scored eight of those. The game ended 118:112 for the Raptors.
The Fight Continues
With the win, the Raptors will have hopes of being able to overcome the deficit and finding themselves in the finals. However, it still seems more likely that Giannis will participate in his first finals this season. The Raptors indeed picked up their game, but it still took them two overtimes and a fouled-out Giannis to win the game. Whoever wins it in the end, it’s possible the tie will go into Game 6 or even 7, which is good news for the Warriors, who will probably finish their job tonight in Game 4.