SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt breaks down the Eastern Conference finals between the Bucks and Raptors and the matchup of stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard.
USA TODAYMILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks have lived by the manta “Let it fly” all season. Keep shooting. Don’t get discouraged by misses.That mentality paid off in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals as the Bucks shook off some early cold shooting to heat up in the fourth quarter and take a 108-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.Brook Lopez poured in 29 points to lead the Bucks, including crucial baskets in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo added 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.The Bucks were strong in the opening minutes, racing out to an 8-3 lead behind six points from Antetokounmpo, including a breakaway dunk.But the Raptors answered by scoring 16 unanswered points, keyed by hot shooting from 3-point range.Giannis (24 PTS, 14 REB) and Brook Lopez (29 PTS, 11 REB) powered the @Bucks to a Game 1 win! #FearTheDeer | #NBAPlayoffspic.twitter.com/LqqXRdMMqm— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 16, 2019The Bucks were ice cold from long distance, missing their first six 3-pointers before Antetokounmpo nailed one from the top of the key to cut the deficit to 19-13.Milwaukee got within nine points before Serge Ibaka nailed a mid-range jumper at the buzzer to give Toronto a 34-23 lead after the first quarter.The Raptors showed they were content to launch a bevy of 3-pointers — 13 of their 25 shots in the opening quarter came from behind the arc.Toronto made six 3-pointers in the opening 12 minutes, while the Bucks were just 3-for-15 from long distance.The Raptors kept bombing away from deep in the second quarter, but cooled off considerably.Lopez, however, heated up midway through the second quarter. After starting 2-for-5, he made three straight shots. Milwaukee cut Toronto’s lead to 42-37 on Lopez’s first 3-pointer of the game.The Bucks got within 50-47 on a dunk by Antetokounmpo with 2:19 remaining in the first half. The Raptors quelled the run and took a 59-51 lead into the locker room.Raptors star Kawhi Leonard led all scorers in the first half with 15 points. He finished with 31.Antetokounmpo had 13 in the first half and Lopez added 12, including eight in the second quarter. Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon, in his second game back since returning from a plantar fascia tear in his right foot, chipped in 11 points in the first half in 12 minutes off the bench.Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe came alive early in the third quarter. He had a terrible first half, missing his only two shots and only handing out one assist.But he started attacking the rim to get going after halftime. He got his first basket two minutes into the second half. Then he corralled a loose ball for a steal and hit a tough reverse layup that got the Bucks within 61-59 and prompted a timeout by the Raptors.After two free throws by Lowry, Bledsoe answered with a three-point play after getting fouled while banking in a nifty over-the-head shot.The Bucks could have taken the lead, but Antetokounmpo missed two free throws and the Raptors reeled off a 9-0 run to take a 72-62 lead.Milwaukee continued to struggle with its deep shooting, missing all 11 3-point attempts in the third quarter. But the Bucks stayed close thanks to their attacking mentalityMilwaukee was 11-for-14 on free throws in the third quarter after just four attempts from the charity stripe in the first half. Antetokoumpo didn’t register a field-goal attempt in the quarter, but went 8-for-10 on free throws.The Bucks seemed in good shape when Lopez tapped in a rebound with five seconds left in the quarter to get the Bucks within 80-76. But the Raptors’ Pascal Siakim nailed a 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Antetokoumpo just before the third-quarter buzzer.Lopez ended the Bucks’ 3-point drought to open the scoring in the fourth quarter. He added another one two possessions later, then Nikola Mirotic was fouled after an offensive rebound. Mirotic made both free throws to give the Bucks the lead at 84-83.The teams traded baskets for a few minutes, then the Bucks continued to heat up from deep. Khris Middleton hit a 3 to put Milwaukee up 91-88. Then Mirotic hit a shot from deep for a 94-91 lead. Both Middleton and Mirotic were 0-for-5 on 3-pointers before hitting those shots.The Bucks took the lead for good at 101-100 when Lopez dunked after a steal by Middleton with 2:20 remaining. On the Bucks’ next trip down the court, Lopez nailed a 3.Lopez shook his shooting hand like it was hot, a celebration he has been doing all season.Just like he has been letting it fly all season.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is part of the USA TODAY Network.AutoplayShow ThumbnailsShow CaptionsLast SlideNext Slide