The Milwaukee Bucks recorded an impressive come-from-behind Game 1 win over Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night and it was not on the back of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s performance as it has so often been this season. Bucks center Brook Lopez was the star of the night with a career playoff high 29 points and 11 rebounds.
The Raptors got off to a strong start ending the first quarter 11 points ahead of the Bucks, the latter reduced the gap to eight points by the half-time interval. They ended the third quarter with a seven point deficit and Raptors looking in the ascendency, but the Bucks dominated down the stretch outscoring the Raptors 32-17 in the fourth to take the game 108-100.
Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry had 30-point games but it was Lopez’s 29 points of which 13 came in the fourth quarter that saw the Bucks extend the gap down the stretch and ensure they held the advantage ahead of Game 2, which is also at Fiserv Arena.
The Bucks’ first lead since the first quarter of the game came in the fourth quarter with just about 10 minutes remaining to play and Lopez credited the entire team for coming together to make that happen. He said the team had to just keep grinding it out and continue taking their shots despite their struggles earlier in the game.
“It was a complete team effort. We had been playing with pretty good energy, pretty good defense the whole game, shots just weren’t going down and we knew that, we had to just keep grinding and that’s what we’ve been doing all season long,” Lopez told Kristen Ledlow after the game.
“We learnt just never to hang our heads and never give up and we haven’t all season. We just came out and like I said, they hit us but we stuck with it, we stuck together kept playing as a team and kept playing defense,” he added.
Antetokounmpo was also full of praise for Lopez and urged him to continue to play aggressive for the rest of the series and believes the team needs to encourage him to take more shots. The Greek Freak also praised Lopez for his defensive work, and giving the team extra possessions with the rebounds he made.