Allow me to take you on a trip back to May 17. After a dominating 48-minute performance, the Milwaukee Bucks took down the Toronto Raptors by 22 points in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, giving them a 2-0 lead with the series heading to Ontario.
Even though the series was far from over, it felt like it was already wrapped up. The Raptors had no answers for Giannis Antetokounmpo, they were getting dominated on the glass, and they couldn't buy a bucket from downtown. Even though the Raptors were one of the best teams at home in the entire league during the regular season, it just felt like there was no coming back. But what a difference three games can make.
Toronto has held Giannis to 12, 25, and 24 points in their sudden three-game win streak. They're still getting out-rebounded, but not nearly as bad as before. Their shooting numbers are still modest for the series overall, with marksmen like Danny Green and Marc Gasol showing uncharacteristic struggles, but they're launching well enough from deep to get by-- and they're suddenly outpacing Milwaukee in that regard in a big, big way.
Another really interesting stat from tonight's game, the Bucks only had 31 three point attempts, in the previous four games they didn't shoot fewer than 41 threes in those games. I've argued before they are a volume three point shooting team, not necessarily a good one.— Mo Dakhil (@MoDakhil_NBA) May 24, 2019
Just a week ago, the Raptors seemed buried. Now, after ripping off three straight wins against the best team in the East, they're on the verge of the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard is officially the best player in this series -- in one late stretch, he scored or assisted on 20 straight points for the Raptors Thursday night -- and role players like Fred Van Vleet are finally coming alive and doing their part.
All told, the home team had won each of the first four games in this series. Tonight, Toronto broke the Bucks in front of their own fans at Fiserv Forum. There may be no coming back from this.
As has been the case all series, Milwaukee cannot score against Toronto's set half-court defense.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 24, 2019
With Game 6 heading back to The Six, the odds of Toronto pulling off a miraculous comeback are suddenly high. They went 32-9 at home this season, won both of their home games against Milwaukee in the series, and haven't dropped a home game since Game 2 of the conference semis against Philadelphia.
Toronto has figured out how to play Giannis, and that has stifled Milwaukee. The Bucks have shown that if their MVP can't put up at least 30, they have nowhere to turn-- particularly now that Eric Bledsoe has become practically unplayable. With the series going north of the border, it's going to be a tall order for Giannis to break out of whatever funk he's in. A single misstep could spell doom for Coach Bud's team.
Tonight you saw the difference when your best player can control the game with ability to handle and score from anywhere. @kawhileonard made shots and created shots when it mattered most. Supporting players made 3s. @Giannis_An34 needs to add a mid range this off season— Timothy Legler (@LegsESPN) May 24, 2019
Get the champagne bottles ready, Toronto. Saturday could be a truly huge night in T-Dot.