The Toronto Raptors will be feeling a major sigh of relief after levelling the series at 1-1 with a hard-fought 106-100 win in Game 2.
"That's our biggest mystery", said Toronto coach Dwane Casey, who turned 60 on Monday. "I'm pretty sure they're excited to have us back home for the playoffs". "It's just who he is, he's a fighter, a competitor, and I knew he wasn't going to satisfied with the way he played in the first game". Toronto took a 55-52 lead into halftime.
"Any time you win it feels good, especially against a good team, a playoff-tested team", Monroe said.
Finishing the game with 22 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and one block, Lowry may have figured out how to bury those playoff problems much quicker than last year's postseason run. "We can kid ourselves all we want to, this is going to be a dogfight, and I look for all the series in the conference to be a dogfight". Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee in the win with 28points and eight rebounds.
Greg Monroe had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Bucks, Tony Snell scored 11, and Khris Middleton finished with 10 points and nine assists. "I got to my spot and let it go". "We're going to need that from him". The officials were saying that we're not hitting (the screens) or running into them.
"They had more bodies in the paint", Antetokounmpo said. "He's human. Everyone has a night like that, we just can't panic every time a guy has a tough night".
The Raptors opened the third quarter with an 18-3 run capped by a Lowry jumper that gave them a 13-point lead.
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Despite their much-improved play, Milwaukee refused to go away, trailing by one-point heading into the fourth quarter. There Game 2 showdown in Toronto is one of the trio of National Basketball Association playoffs games Tuesday night that feature lower seeds that are trying to take 2-0 series leads.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd said that Antetokounmpo is stepping into his own at the right time. It looks inevitable that Antetokounmpo is going to get his, but the harder the Raptors make it on him, the better the chance they're going to have of winning this series.
On Tuesday night, the hosts won the first quarter 28-25 at the Air Canada Center. Whether it's rebounding from a loss or rallying from a slow start, the Raptors have traditionally been good when playing from behind.
"Officials have a hard job, they have the hardest job in sport in terms of calling the game and speed of the game and physicality now, the athletic ability of the players today, it's very difficult".
The Raps built that lead up to 13 points, but it never felt comfortable.
Meanwhile, the Rockets played team ball down the stretch - their star James Harden had 35, but in the fourth quarter he got plenty of help. "They kind of make you get in there, they all come to the ball". DeRozan had 12 points in the quarter while Middleton scored nine for Milwaukee. He shot 6-for-12 from the field in Game 2, made two of his five three-pointers and when his team needed him most, he drilled the dagger to tie the series up.
Milwaukee battled back, and a layup by Antetokounmpo cut it to 98-97 with 2:46 remaining, leading to a Raptors timeout. As Casey said, "you're not gonna change what our DNA is". He more than quadrupled his scoring output from Game 1 in the first half, scoring 17 points with a 50/67/100 shooting split. The Raptors knocked down 14 threes, including a team-high four from Serge Ibaka.
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