MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo began the sport with an emphatic dunk. The following possession, a sprawling block to disclaim Marc Gasol. The following possession, one other dunk.
The tone was set. And it by no means modified.
The Jap Convention doesn’t belong to Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks — but. However they’re two wins away, after Antetokounmpo had 30 factors and 17 rebounds, Ersan Ilyasova got here off the bench so as to add 17 factors and the Bucks by no means trailed on the best way to a 125-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night time and a 2-Zero lead within the East finals.
“He performs so arduous, he lays all of it on the road, each time,” Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned. “It was an awesome begin for us. I believe all people fed off of Giannis and the way he began the sport.”
How he completed, too.
Antetokounmpo scored 11 factors within the fourth for the Bucks, who had six gamers in double figures — three of them reserves. Nikola Mirotic scored 15, Malcolm Brogdon had 14, George Hill 13 and Khris Middleton 12.
Kawhi Leonard scored 31 factors for Toronto, which gave up the sport’s first 9 factors and trailed by double digits for the ultimate 39 minutes. Kyle Lowry scored 15, and Norman Powell had 14 factors for the Raptors.
“We didn’t do a lot nicely tonight, clearly,” Raptors Coach Nick Nurse mentioned.
Recreation Three is Sunday in Toronto.
“We’ve acquired an opportunity to go dwelling, shield dwelling court docket and do what we’re speculated to do,” Lowry mentioned.
Milwaukee, an N.B.A.-best 60-22 document through the common season, grew to become the 16th staff to start out a postseason with a minimum of 10 victories in its first 11 video games. Solely the 1989 Los Angeles Lakers, the 2001 Lakers and the 2017 Golden State Warriors opened the playoffs 11-0.
The Bucks led by as many as 28 factors earlier than Toronto did sufficient chipping away to maintain some semblance of hope.
Finally, Antetokounmpo determined sufficient was sufficient. With 5 minutes 51 seconds left to play, Antetokounmpo backed Leonard down on the block, spun again towards the middle of the lane and scored whereas being hit, beginning a 3-point play. He yelled to the gang and punched the air. The knockout blow was landed, and the Bucks are two wins from their first N.B.A. finals berth in 45 years.
“At instances, I overlook that I’ve to remain aggressive,” Antetokounmpo mentioned.
Not in that second, he didn’t. Aggression wasn’t a difficulty for the Bucks at any level.
Milwaukee’s lead was 35-21 after the primary quarter, and 64-39 on the half. It was the primary time Toronto had been outscored by 10 or extra factors in every of a recreation’s first two quarters since Could 25, 2016, towards Cleveland. The 25-point halftime gap was, by far, the Raptors’ worst of the season. They trailed Houston, 55-37, on March 5.
“The start sort of set us in an actual dangerous spot,” Gasol mentioned. “We couldn’t get a grip of the sport early on.”
Toronto was down 21 when Lowry acquired his third foul with 1:27 left till halftime. The Raptors left Lowry in; he wound up getting his fourth foul whereas battling Mirotic for a rebound 24 seconds later and headed to the bench. One other roll of the cube didn’t repay, both: Raptors ahead Pascal Siakam acquired his fourth foul shortly after halftime after which acquired his fifth with 9:26 left within the third.
Antetokounmpo began the second half with a 3-point play, pushing the result in 28. That’s when Toronto discovered a little bit of a groove. The Raptors outscored Milwaukee by 31-16 over the following 9 minutes, making it 83-70 on a 3-pointer by Fred VanVleet. However a fast flurry by the Bucks restored order: Brogdon rebounded his personal miss and scored, then arrange George Hill for a rating in transition, and Hill scored once more off a Raptors turnover a couple of seconds later.
Identical to that, the lead was again as much as 19, and it was 95-78 going into the fourth.
“We got here out, had a pair defensive stops that led to some transition baskets,” Hill mentioned. “And we ran from there.”