There were two starving franchises fighting for victory in a pivotal game 5 today.
One fanbase had the benefit of watching live, as their NFL heroes took turns chugging beer and hyping up the crowd in Milwaukee.
The other stood united in their Jurassic Park, as Drake and his band of merry men stood upon a stage and got hyped at every Raptor highlight throughout the game.
Today, the Toronto Takeover happened.
The Raps were able to take home-court advantage from the #1 seed in the East and give themselves a chance to head to the Finals against the defending champs in game 6 at home.
Toronto Raptors (3-2) vs Milwaukee Bucks (2-3) : 105 to 99
What’s the headline of the game?
We have a couple of contenders.
Headline 1: Kawhi Leonard out superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo.
First let’s dive into the box score.
Kawhi finished with a 35-7-9 on 11/25 shooting and 8/9 from the line. Giannis meanwhile posted an admirable 24-6-6 on 9/18 shooting and 4/9 shooting from the line.
But the difference is really in the eye test.
Kawhi looked like he could get his wherever and whenever he wanted. In transition he was finishing, like most great players do. More importantly however he was able to get his shots off in the half-court against a set defence, putting a whole lot of pressure on the Milwaukee defence at the rim and forcing them to either give Kawhi what he wanted or getting to the line.
Meanwhile, Giannis looked to struggle in the half if he couldn’t beat his defender to the rim for a dunk or layup. The Raps did an awesome job ‘building a wall’, which has become essential to any defensive strategy against the Freak. Forcing the ball into the hands of other Bucks late in the game, the Raptors were happy with late game situations involving Middleton, Brogdon, Lopez or Bledsoe (who had a suprisingly solid 20 point game, but did nothing special to help the Bucks late).
This brings us to headline 2.
Headline 2: The Battle of the Other Guys.
Definition time: Other Guys – Refers to a group of individuals on a team who are not the best player on the team. In basketball, this would refer to the 2nd through 15th best player on the team, depending on how many of them played in a given game.
For the Raptors, we’re talking Pascal Siakim through to Danny Green.
For the Bucks, it’s Middleton through to Illyasova.
On paper, the Bucks other guys were very solid. Bledsoe (20), Brogdon (18) and Lopez (18) were all very solid at home, particularly in the first half of play.
Four ‘Other Guys’ Bucks had double digits in scoring, compared to the Raptors three.
But again, the playoffs is an eye test paradise.
The Raptors Other Guys were more disciplined on defence, consistently building the wall around Giannis and refusing to commit ticky-tack fouls on the best shooters. Particularly late in the game, the rebounding and defence of everyone not named Kawhi was fantastic.
On top of this, Fred Van Vleet had the kind of road playoff game that champions in the NBA are made of, pouring in a much needed 21 points on 7/9 shooting from the three point line, and played like he belonged on the court in the waining minutes of the game.
Milwaukee meanwhile couldn’t control Toronto’s elite ball movement, offensive rebounding ability and proved to be unable to crack the Raps defence when they needed a bucket most.
Now heading into game 6, Toronto appear to be the favourites to make it out of the East and into the Finals.
Next Game @ Raptors: Sunday (26/5) at 10:30am AEST