A big fourth quarter from center Brook Lopez helped the Milwaukee Bucks come from behind to beat the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Lopez finished the game with a playoff career-high of 29 points, with 13 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.
Bucks Rally as Toronto Fades in 4th
Lopez also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked four shots in the winning effort.
“This is the Brook we all know and love,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said after the game. “We just want him to be aggressive, especially in this series.”
For much of the game, it appeared as though the Raptors might be able to steal Game 1 on the road. Toronto started the game red hot, taking an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter. They maintained their advantage throughout the first three quarters, entering the fourth with an 83-76 lead.
Kawai Leonard scored 31 in a losing effort on 10-26 shooting, but appeared to be fatiguing in the fourth quarter. It was Kyle Lowry who kept the Raptors in the game in the fourth quarter, shooting 5-for-7 while the rest of his team combined to go 0-for-15 from the field.
“They outplayed us in that fourth quarter. They got a little bit more aggressive,” Lowry, who scored 30 points on the night, told reporters after the game. “They made some big shots, made some big plays. It sucks when you lose like that. But we had our chance and we’ve got to learn from it.”
Antetokounmpo added 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists for the Bucks. After the game, Giannis said that the ugly nature of the win made it a more valuable experience for Milwaukee.
“I think we need games like this, because not every game is going to be a blowout,” Antetokounmpo said. “Not every game is going to be easy. And I think this game definitely made us better.”
Milwaukee Favored in Game 2
The Bucks will also be happy to avoid losing a second straight Game 1. Milwaukee was blown out by the Boston Celtics to start their second-round series, though they would come back to eliminate Boston in five games.
The loss is far from fatal for the Raptors, though they will regret not flipping home field advantage by winning a road game that they led for most of the contest.
“The game is over,” Toronto center Marc Gasol told reporters. “We got to look back at it and learn but we can’t think too much about it. You come out Game 2 and try to win. You can’t replay this one.”
Unfortunately for Toronto, the Bucks are favored both in Game 2 and in the series as a whole. Milwaukee is a 6.5-point favorite at home on Friday night according to FanDuel Sportsbook, and are given -460 odds of winning the series, while the Raptors can be backed at +330. The Bucks are also a +200 pick to win the NBA Championship, trailing only the Golden State Warriors (-180).