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Milwaukee Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo talks team chemistry in the postseason
Margaret Naczek, USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinMILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo opened the scoring in Game 2 with a pair of powerful two-handed dunks.It was a metaphor. It was foreshadowing.The Milwaukee Bucks dunked all over the Toronto Raptors with a dominating start-to-finish 125-103 victory on Friday, taking a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.”It definitely set the tone,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what I tried to do. I know every night when the game starts, my teammates are looking at me as the leader of the team.”On the day Antetokounmpo was named a finalist for regular-season MVP, he produced an MVP performance with 30 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal.#FEARTHEDEER@Giannis_An34 posts 30 PTS, 17 REB, 5 AST as the @Bucks take a 2-0 series lead! #NBAPlayoffsGame 3: Sunday (5/19), 7pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/FMTqDj5UIR— NBA (@NBA) May 18, 2019The Bucks led by 18 in the first quarter, 25 in the second, 28 early in the third, weathered a third-quarter run by the Raptors and made sure the blowout remained in the fourth.The Raptors are in trouble and on the verge of being in deep trouble. Two games into the series, the next game on Sunday in Toronto has turned into a must-win for the Raptors. They can’t go down 3-0.The Raptors get — and deserve — a chance to see what they can do in Games 3 and 4 at home in Scotiabank Arena. The fans there generate a home-court advantage, and teams play better at home.In the 2016 Eastern Conference finals, the Raptors lost the first two games in Cleveland and won the next two in Toronto. Different players, different teams, yet the Raptors have to fall back on something positive, and they were 32-9 at home this season.But the outlook appears bleak against a two-way team that was dominant in the regular season and is dominant in the playoffs.MORE NBAMilwaukee won an NBA-best 45 of its 60 games by at least 10 points, which is also the highest percentage of double-digits wins in league history, not counting the 2011-12 lockout shortened season.The Bucks have continued their dominance in the playoffs with an NBA-record six 20-points victories. Detroit got it in the first round, Boston in the second and Toronto in Game 2. Eight of Milwaukee’s 10 playoff victories have been by double-digits.In the playoffs, the Bucks have the second-best offense and best defense, scoring 113.5 points and allowing 98.4 points for a playoff-high 15.1 net rating. They have beaten opponents by 15.3 points per game.Milwaukee’s defense is stifling. Nothing is easy for the Raptors, with the Bucks swarming to the basketball. Even Kawhi Leonard’s 31 points weren’t easy, and Danny Green and Marc Gasol continue to struggle with their shooting.The Raptors shot 42.2%, including 36.5% in the first half when they scored just 39 points. Raptors coach Nick Nurse says shots are there, and some are. But Milwaukee — with its size, length and focus — makes it tougher.Milwaukee had just too much offensive versatility on the other end. Six players scored in double figures, led by Antetokounmpo, who punished Toronto in the paint with nine of his 10 makes inside the restricted area at the rim.”Obviously we weren’t nearly as good on Giannis tonight,” Nurse said. “He was in the paint with a little too much force more than we’d like.”And it wasn’t even a signature game from Antetokounmpo.”He’s incredible, and then you’re like, ‘I think he can be even better,’ ” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The great part about Giannis is he wants to be better. We’re coaching him and we’re on him. We think he can be doing more, and he just soaks it up. It’s just so unique to have a player like that, that just wants to be great and you feel like has more, and yet he’s been phenomenal.”But Milwaukee’s victory was more than just Antetokounmpo, and that’s what makes Milwaukee difficult to defend. Brook Lopez didn’t replicate his effort from Game 1, and Eric Bledsoe was scoreless in the first half. But five other players scored in double figures. Ersan Ilyasova had 17, Nikola Mirotic 15, Malcolm Brogdon 14, George Hill 13 and Khris Middleton 12. The scoring came in all directions from all areas of the floor.The Bucks spread the ball and the scoring.”We want guys that are basketball players that have high IQs that can do, like you said, dribble, pass, shoot, can make reads, make decisions,” Budenholzer said. “We try to develop them. We try and empower them. We try to play a way where they all feel like they can contribute and do things. Hopefully that’s paying off for us, and guys appreciate it. I think they grow and develop here.”The Bucks have solutions. The Raptors don’t have answers.Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide

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