The Milwaukee Bucks maintained home-court advantage with a series-opening win over the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night in hotly-contested affair.
Toronto will now look to even the Eastern Conference Finals Friday night before the series shifts to Canada.
Here, we look at five burning questions heading into this pivotal Game 2 matchup on TNT Friday evening.
What does a 2-0 series lead mean?
- A total of 91% of teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead in the conference finals have gone on to win the series.
- It did happen last year when the Boston Celtics blew said lead against a LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers squad.
- Before that, we have to go all the way back to 2007, when the Cavs overcame said deficit against the Detroit Pistons.
How will the Bucks’ point guard situation play out?
- In Malcolm Brogdon’s first action since March 15, the former Rookie of the Year performed much better than starter Eric Bledsoe.
- Game 1 saw Brogdon connect on 5-of-9 shots for 15 points in the win. Milwaukee was plus-18 in the 27 minutes he was on the court.
- Meanwhile, Bledsoe hit on just 3-of-12 shots for nine points. The Bucks were plus-1 in his 30 minutes.
- We should see a bit more of these two on the court together in Game 2. It might come at the cost of Nikola Mirotic.
Can Toronto’s bench step up?
- A lot was made of Kawhi Leonard’s struggles late in Game 1. But the dude dropped 31 points. Instead, it was the Raptors’ bench that cost them this one.
- Norman Powell, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka shot a combined 5-of-15 from the field. They boasted an accumulative minus-33 in about 40 minutes of action.
- Head coach Nick Nurse might decide to extend his rotation from the eight players we saw in Game 1.
- This could very well include seeing if Jeremy Lin has anything to offer.
Can Brook Lopez repeat his Game 1 performance?
- Even more so than Giannis Antetokounmpo, Lopez was the reason Milwaukee stole Game 1. He connected on 12-of-21 shots for 29 points.
- Two late-game buckets, a dunk and three-pointer, pretty much put this game away for the Bucks.
- Prior to Game 1, Lopez was averaging less than 5.0 points on 30% shooting in his past three outings.
- Having completely outplayed Marc Gasol in the opener, we’re highly intrigued to see how the streaky Lopez plays Friday night.
Is Kyle Lowry up for the big stage?
- A lot has been made about Lowry’s postseason struggles. Remember, he averaged just 12.4 points in the first two rounds this year.
- Lowry went off for 30 points on 7-of-9 shooting from distance Wednesday night. He scored 14 points in the final stanza to keep Toronto close.
- Unfortunately, Lowry has not proven to be a consistent postseason figure for this team. If he doesn’t repeat Game 1, the Raptors will fall down 2-0 in the series.
- There’s no other way to say it. Toronto blew an opportunity to take homecourt from Milwaukee in Game 1.
- The Raptors’ grit and resolve will be tested Friday night. How will Leonard and Lowry handle the immense pressure?
- We’re going to predict it won’t end too well for the Raptors. Milwaukee comes out on top by 20-plus points to take a commanding series lead.