Kawhi Leonard’s offence has been nearly unstoppable during the Raptors’ playoff run and he has been a big reason – maybe the reason – why Toronto is just two wins away from their first NBA Finals berth in franchise history.
But as much as Leonard has carried the Raptors’ offence, he had just 19 points in Game 4 – his lowest total since the first round.
Given the way Leonard has played versus the rest of the team during this series, a 19-point outing may have spelled blowout in Game 4. But that wasn’t the case at all.
Kyle Lowry nearly mirrored his performance from Game 1, dropping 25 points on just 11 shots and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Norman Powell finished with 18 points and four three-pointers as his role off the bench continues to expand. Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol also scored 17 apiece and Fred VanVleet added another 13 off the pine for his highest point total of the playoffs since Game 1 of the first round.
If that kind of balanced effort from the Raptors’ supporting cast felt unprecedented, it’s probably because it was.
Tuesday was the first time the Raptors have ever had six different players score at least 13 points in a playoff game. Lowry is the first player in Raptors history to score 25-plus, have at least five rebounds and five assists and also make 10-plus free throws without a miss in a playoff game. The 13 rebounds Ibaka pulled down were also the second most ever by a Raptor off the bench in postseason contest, trailing only the 16 Bismack Biyombo had in 2016 in the second round against the Miami Heat.
The balanced attack was a far cry from Game 2 – where the Raptors were blown out 125-103 as the Bucks took a 2-0 series lead – when Leonard had 31 and only two other Raptors scored in double figures.
Bucks Game 4
Raptors Game 4
*Players to play over 20 minutes
The Raptors needed it, and not just because Leonard didn’t look 100 per cent healthy at times. As well as the Raps played, the duo of Khris Middleton (30 points, six rebounds, seven assists) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists) was dominant for the Bucks.
Tuesday was just the second time in Bucks’ history over the past 35 years that two players have had at least 25-5-5 in the same playoff game. The first? Antetokounmpo and Middleton last year.
But unlike the Raptors, the Milwaukee supporting cast didn’t back up their stars. Only one other player scored in double figures (Nikola Mirotic, 11 points) and the backcourt tandem of Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon combined for nine points on 4-for-18 shooting from the field.
The home team has won every game so far this series but for the Raptors to advance and face the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, they’re going to have to win at least one game in Milwaukee.
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