The Toronto Raptors went into Milwaukee and opened up a double-digit lead against the top seeded Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Toronto pretty much led from the get, taking a 34-23 advantage into the second quarter. Unfortunately, struggles from Kawhi Leonard and Co. down the stretch led to a blown opportunity.
Needing to win one game in Milwaukee during the best-of-seven series, the Raptors might look back at Game 1 as an early turning point.
Here, we check in on the top takeaways from Milwaukee’s 108-100 win over Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Brook Lopez of all people?
We have to give this veteran center a ton of credit for his otherworldly performance in Game 1. We don’t normally like when any member of the Bucks takes more shots than Giannis Antetokounmpo. When said player is hitting at a high clip, that changes.
Down by one late in the fourth quarter, Lopez took a Khris Middleton pass and jammed it in. He then nailed a trey on the next possession to give the Bucks a four-point lead. Overall, Lopez dropped 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting in the win. Oh, and he added a block of Kawhi Leonard late in the final stanza. Whew.
Eric Bledsoe’s disappearing act
One of the underrated matchups in this series was Bledsoe going up against All-Star Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. For at least one game, Lowry proved himself to be much better than his counterpart. Bledsoe scored zero points on 0-for-2 shooting with just one assist in the first half.
Bledsoe ultimately finished the game with nine points on 3-of-12 shooting. His performance is going to be something to watch moving forward.
Raptors role players struggle big time
Whether it was Pascal Siakam or Marc Gasol, Toronto’s secondary players could not do anything in this game. Lowry and Leonard combined for 61 points. The rest of this team scored 39 in the eight-point loss.
Siakam and Gasol combined for 21 point on 8-of-31 shooting. That’s not the type of production you expect from two players who have stepped up during the playoffs. And it cost Toronto in Game 1.
Malcolm Brogdon returns with a flurry
Out since March 15 with a foot injury, Brogdon returned to action as a reserve for the Bucks in the opener of the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee had planned to take it slow with the former Rookie of the Year. But that was tested early with Brogdon connecting on 4-of-7 shots for 11 points in the first half alone.
While Brodgon’s presence wasn’t anywhere near as notable in the second half, it became clear that he was going to take some of Bledsoe’s minutes from the starting point guard. This is certainly something to watch as the series progresses.
Kyle Lowry comes up absolutely huge
A lot has been made of Lowry’s past postseason struggles. In an attempt to reverse that trend Wednesday night, Lowry pretty much took over the game in the final stanza.
The veteran point guard dropped 14 of his 30 points in the final 12 minutes, keeping Toronto alive as other members of the team were struggling. If this is any indication, the Raptors can expect more awesome play from the All-Star moving forward. He was pretty darn dazzling, including hitting on 7-of-9 three-pointers.
But Raptors blow it
Having held a double-digit lead after the first quarter, most expected Toronto to take home-court advantage away from the Bucks. In no way did that happen. With Kawhi Leonard and Co. struggling down the stretch, Milwaukee pulled out the win.
This is a loss that’s going to hurt the Raptors big time moving forward. Leonard scored all of two points in the final stanza. Pascal Siakam connected on just 6-of-20 shots. Having to win one game on the road in the best-of-seven series, this loss could cost Toronto big time. Leonard is among those to blame.