NBA Wrap: Raptors make history and book NBA Finals spot
The Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to seal the series 4-2 to make history, as the Canadian franchise clinched their first ever NBA Finals appearance.
It had been a hard-fought best of seven series, then the Raptors got the all-important road victory in Game 5 when the team from the North won that game 105-99. Game 6 saw the hosts face the prospect of making history and they didn’t let the chance slip.
Kawhi Leonard was the heart and soul of Toronto’s push for victory and he delivered with a game-high 27 points and 17 rebounds, also dishing seven assists in the process. Leonard’s night also saw him steal the ball twice and he blocked two shots, showing his impact on both ends of the court. Cameroonian Pascal Siakam was the second-highest point-scorer for the Raptors with 18 points and he had four rebounds. Kyle Lowry ended the clash with 17 points; eight assists and five rebounds and Fred VanVleet had 14 points, as he went 4-5 from 3-point range. Congolese big man Serge Ibaka scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot.
The Bucks will feel like they let their chances slip in this game and this series. The had a double-digit lead for much of the contest but allowed the home team to claw their way back into the clash before eventually letting the hosts win it. As expected Giannis Antetokounmpo was their main star with 21 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. But Giannis wasn’t as dominant as his team needed him to be, under pressure from a swarming Raptors defence. The Greek Freak shot 38.9 percent from field goal range and went 7-18. He was also wasteful at the free throw line, only making half of his shots, going 5-10.
The other major Bucks contributors were Brook Lopez with 18 points and nine rebounds, Ersan Ilyasova with 13 points and six rebounds and Khris Middleton with 14 points. Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill both scored 10 points.
Its back to the drawing board for the Milwaukee Bucks, coach Mike Budenholzer and Giannis who know they had a golden opportunity to make it to the Finals this season. This victory was vindication for Raptors Nigerian president of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri, who had let go of former coach Dwane Casey and star player DeMar DeRozan heading into this season. His decision to bring in superstar Kawhi Leonard has finally brought an appearance in the NBA Finals to a franchise and a country that had craved this level of success. The Raptors now face the Golden State Warriors in the Finals starting in the early hours of the 31st of May.