Loading scores...
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Getty Images
Basketball Daily Dose

Kawhi Leonard Leads Raptors Past Bucks

by Raphielle Johnson

After Milwaukee held serve in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals, Toronto looked to get on the board with a win in Game 3 Sunday night. Nick Nurse’s team accomplished that goal but some extra work was required, as the game went to double overtime before being decided. Kawhi Leonard once again led the way for Toronto, setting a franchise record for most postseason games with 35 points or more, with Pascal Siakam also being a key figure.

But unlike the first two games, the Raptors also received some notable contributions from players not named Leonard or Siakam. Below is a look at Game 3, which also included a career night from Giannis Antetokounmpo on the boards. 

Raptors 118, Bucks 112 (2OT)

On most nights, limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo to 12 points would guarantee victory. That wasn’t the case for Toronto however, as the Raptors were unable to put away Milwaukee in regulation. Ultimately the home team would get the job done, winning in double overtime to cut the Bucks’ series lead to two games to one. Kawhi Leonard, who appeared to be less than full strength after landing awkwardly on a shot attempt during the first half, once again led the way offensively for Toronto. 

Leonard shot 11-of-25 from the field and 12-of-13 from the foul line, scoring 36 points with nine rebounds, five assists, two steals, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 52 minutes. Leonard turned the ball over five times on the night, equaling his total from the first two games of the series. The turnover count isn’t great, but it can be argued that the number is a byproduct of having to do so much to generate offense for Toronto. Leonard’s substitution pattern was changed for Game 3, as he left the game with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter. He would return at the start of the second quarter and play the full 12 minutes, with Nurse using the same approach in the third quarter. 

What also helped Toronto was the fact that others stepped forward offensively after struggling in Milwaukee, beginning with Pascal Siakam. Siakam played 51 minutes, scoring 25 points (8-of-16 FGs, 5-of-9 FTs) with 11 rebounds, three steals, one assist, one block and two 3-pointers. In the first two games of the series he scored a total of 23 points, shooting 10-of-29 from the field and 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Siakam was one of the NBA’s most improved players during the regular season (he’s a finalist for the award), and he’ll need to consistently play at that level if Toronto is to have any chance of winning the series. 

Marc Gasol and Norman Powell also performed better offensively, with the former being non-factors in the first two games of the series. Gasol, who totaled eight points, 17 rebounds, six assists and three blocks in Milwaukee, posted a line of 16 points (5-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), 12 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks, one steal and four 3-pointers in 45 minutes. Powell was the subject of the other rotation change, as he was the first reserve off the bench instead of Serge Ibaka. He produced his best game of the postseason to date, scoring 19 points (7-of-13 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) while also tallying four rebounds, three assists, one steal and three 3-pointers. 

Powell was coming off of a solid Game 2, as he finished the blowout loss with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers. Kyle Lowry added 11 points (4-of-7 FGs), five assists, four rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers before fouling out late in regulation. 

Powell being even better in Game 3 than he was in Game 2 was huge, due in part to the continued struggles of Danny Green and Fred VanVleet. Green and VanVleet combined to score six points on 2-of-20 shooting from the field (2-of-14 3-pointers). Green added six rebounds, two steals, one assist and one blocked shot, with VanVleet tallying six assists, three rebounds and one block. Those two have struggled for much of the postseason, and it’s something that needs to change regardless of Kawhi Leonard’s productivity. Pascal Siakam also struggled Sunday, scoring five points on 2-of-9 shooting with six rebounds, one steal, one block and one three-pointer in just 14 minutes played. 

Toronto didn’t change its starting lineup after there were some pregame rumblings that this could happen, with the major change being the adjustment to Leonard’s minutes as noted above. The Raptors closed out the first quarter with a lineup of VanVleet, Green, Powell, Siakam and Ibaka, and the rotation was also impacted by Lowry’s foul trouble. Leonard’s going to be on the court for as long as possible, which is understandable given his impact on both ends of the floor. 

He defended Antetokounmpo very well Sunday, with the MVP candidate shooting 1-of-9 from the field on shots that were defended by Leonard according to ESPN Stats and Information (overall the Bucks were 3-of-18 on shots defended by Leonard). Antetokounmpo finished the night 5-of-16 from the field and 2-of-7 from the foul line, with the 12 points being the fewest he’s scored in a game this postseason. 

However he did establish a new playoff career-high with the 23 rebounds while also racking up seven assists, four blocks and one steal. Antetokounmpo is just the 12th player in postseason history to have at least 23 rebounds and seven assists in a playoff game. That being said, the struggles both shooting the basketball and taking care of it (eight turnovers) made this a tough night for the Bucks’ leader.  

Brook Lopez was the only starter to shoot at least 50% from the field, making five of his ten field goal attempts and scoring 16 points with six rebounds, two steals, one assist and three 3-pointers in 40 minutes. Khris Middleton (nine points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one three-pointer) and Eric Bledsoe (11 points, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and one three-pointer) both shot 3-of-16 from the field, and Nikola Mirotic (ten points, five rebounds, three steals and one three-pointer) made just three of his 11 shot attempts. 

Milwaukee’s most effective scorers were reserve guards George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon, who combined to score 44 points. Hill shot 7-of-9 from the field and 7-of-8 from the foul line, scoring 24 points with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Brogdon matched Hill’s minutes total, scoring 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting (1-of-2 FTs) with five rebounds, two steals, one assist and three 3-pointers. Ersan Ilyasova (two points, one rebound and one assist), who wasn’t as effective as he was in Game 2, and Pat Connaughton (eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two 3-pointers) played 13 and 12 minutes, respectively. 

Monday’s Game: Warriors @ Trail Blazers (9 PM, ESPN) 

Warriors lead, 3-0 

There’s just one change to the injury report from Game 3, as Andre Iguodala was listed as questionable due to tightness in his left calf. The injury limited Iguodala to 18 minutes in Golden State’s comeback win Saturday night, with Alfonzo McKinnie being a beneficiary minutes-wise. McKinnie, who played a total of 23 minutes in the first two games of the series, played 21 and accounted for five points, nine rebounds, one steal and one three-pointer in Game 3. Should Iguodala be limited or unable to play McKinnie stands to see more game time. 

DeMarcus Cousins (left quadriceps tear) and Kevin Durant (right calf strain) remain on the report, with both set to be re-evaluated next week. Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a season-ending broken leg in late March, was the only Trail Blazer on the injury report released Sunday night. 

Raphielle Johnson
Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter @raphiellej.