LOS ANGELES, USA – Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo threw down two savage slams and blocked Toronto’s Marc Gasol right in the opening minutes.
It was the kind of dominance Milwaukee showed all of Game 2 as the Bucks ripped the Raptors, 125-103, to take a 2-0 series lead in the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Friday, May 17 (Saturday, May 18, Philippine time).
In what proved to be a turnaround from the Game 1 thriller, the Bucks jumped to a blistering 9-0 start and erected an 18-point advantage, 33-15, right in the 1st quarter.
Antetokounmpo – who was named as one of the 3 finalists for this season’s MVP award just minutes before the game – dropped a huge double-double of 30 points and 17 rebounds on top of 5 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
"Mentally, we were ready for this game," Antetokounmpo said. "Once the game started, we did a great job setting the tone. We knew Toronto was going to come and try to play hard and try to get one at our place."
What a start to the action for THE GREEK FREAK! 9-0 @Bucks run early in Q1! #FearTheDeer @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/82nymhpizY — NBA (@NBA) May 18, 2019
Ersan Ilyasova also led the strong showing of the Bucks bench, burying 17 points on a 7-of-11 clip.
The Bucks never let up, building leads as many as 28 points, 67-39, in the 3rd quarter against the Raptors side that just couldn’t get anything going.
Six Milwaukee players finished in double figures with Nikola Mirotic (15 points), Malcolm Brogdon (14 points), George Hill (13 points), and Khris Middleton (12 points) rounding out the tally.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Raptors with a game-high 31 points and 8 rebounds.
Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points, connecting on just 4-of-13 shots from the field. Norman Powell added 14 off the bench, but they were the only Raptors to score in double figures.
Milwaukee notched its sixth straight win in these playoffs and its sixth post-season victory by at least 20 points – tying an NBA record.
Antetokounmpo, an MVP finalist with Houston's James Harden and Oklahoma City's Paul George, said the honor was far form his thoughts – despite the chants of "MVP! MVP!" that fans rained on him.
"I don't care about that right now," he said. "I care about going to Toronto and focusing for Game 3."
The best-of-seven series heads to Toronto for Games 3 and 4. – With a report from Agence France-Presse