wnol.info September 26 2017

Milwaukee Bucks eager to build after strong finish to season

September 26 2017, 07:22 | Irvin Gilbert

DeMar DeRozan delivered 32 points as the Toronto Raptors rebounded after blowing a 25-point second-half lead to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 92-89, to reach the second round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.

"You still have to win on the road, winning in Cleveland is hard", coach Dwane Casey said. "We made a run and gave ourselves an opportunity; we fought".

So it was that Toronto looked its absolute worst in Game 6-and in their entire first-round series against Milwaukee-after first taking a 25-point lead.

Toronto didn't collapse. "We were moving the ball", Lowry said.

The Raptors finally could breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds left for a three-point lead. The Raptors pulled out Game 6 over the Milwaukee Bucks, 92-89. "I was ready (for) whatever they were going to throw at me", DeRozan said. "That gets you ready for anybody you are going to play", Popovich said. We just had to sustain it. We didn't expect to be down and fighting back in the last couple of minutes, but we stayed calm and executed. LeBron was ridiculous against the Pacers, averaging 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.0 blocks per game while shooting 54.3 percent from the field, 45 percent from 3-point range and averaging 43.8 minutes per game. The Bucks made only 18 of 28 free throws, and they shot 42.1 percent from the floor.

Even at the end of three-quarters the lead was still 13 and while momentum had shifted back to the home side, it still felt like there was a cushion there the Raptors were more than capable of riding home. With Patrick Patterson coming up big in the final minutes of a Game 6 series-clinching win against Milwaukee, and Ibaka's presence around the rim changing and denying shot attempts from the Bucks, either of those players could emerge as a key piece for Toronto.

"We're better from that standpoint", he said. They run a pile of isolation plays and old-school pick-and-rolls, and they are very good at it. Antetokounmpo was aided by Middleton (who finished with 19 points), plus reserves Matthew Dellavedova (12 points), Jason Terry (eight points) and Greg Monroe (six), all of whom were gassed late in the fourth quarter. Were it not for a steady commitment to defending, Toronto would have coughed up the lead half a quarter sooner. It's not that hard. "I was just saying in the timeout - because it seemed a little bit intense, and guys were a little bit uptight on the bench - I was just telling them, relax, let's run some plays, let's move the ball, let's keep doing the things that got us up that high in the first place". That stretch started in 2014 when the Raptors lost a first-round series to the Brooklyn Nets, who were then coached by current Bucks coach Jason Kidd.

Game 6 is when the Raptors put the finishing touches on their first round series.

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