With their 105-99 loss in Game 5 on Thursday night, the Milwaukee Bucks now face elimination as they head back to Toronto for a potentially-deciding Game 6 on Saturday night.
Despite starting the game on an 18-4 run in the first quarter, the Bucks weren’t able to stave off the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard, who was spectacular once again. He led his team with 35 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists, and Toronto snatched home court away from the Bucks and put themselves one win away from an NBA Finals showdown with the Warriors.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was more productive this game than he had been in the previous two losses and got help from his teammates as four other players scored in double figures for the night, but it ultimately didn’t matter, as Milwaukee lost its third straight game despite starting the series with a commanding 2-0 lead.
Some see an eerie resemblance to the way the Celtics decisively took their opener against the Bucks in the first round, then proceeded to lose four straight, but Giannis wouldn’t hear any talk about that after the game. Via Malika Andrews of ESPN:
“We’re not gonna fold,” Antetokounmpo vowed, cutting off the question. “We’re the best team in the league. We’re gonna go in, give it everything we got. We can’t fold. We’re gonna come back to Milwaukee being pissed.”
The Bucks’ youth and inexperience has certainly shined through these past few games, giving a stark reminder that this Giannis-led team hadn’t won a playoff series until this spring. Rarely do teams hop plateaus where they go from losing in the first round to the NBA Finals.
Still, Milwaukee has their chance to turn it around on Saturday. If not, they’ll be left wondering how they squandered a 2-0 series lead that made them look like a virtual shoe-in for the Finals, but now seems like a distant memory.