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Kawhi Leonard leads Toronto Raptors to maiden NBA Finals by beating Milwaukee Bucks

Stuart Hodge - @hodgeythehack

Sunday 26 May 2019 13:23, UK

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors goes to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals 3:39
Highlights of the Toronto Raptors' 100-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 to win the Eastern Conference finals series

Kawhi Leonard had 27 points and 17 rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors into the NBA Finals for the first time with a 100-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Game leaders

Toronto Raptors

  • Points: Kawhi Leonard – 27
  • Assists: Kyle Lowry – 8
  • Rebounds: Kawhi Leonard – 17

 

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Points: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 21
  • Assists: Eric Bledsoe – 7
  • Rebounds: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 11

The story of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals

The Raptors overcame a 15-point deficit to win the series in six games and will host the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Friday morning.

Two-time defending champions Warriors face a Raptors team that will finally bring the NBA Finals outside the U.S. after entering the league in 1995.

Live NBA Finals - 30/05/2019

Pascal Siakam scored 18 points, Kyle Lowry had 17 and Fred VanVleet 14 for the Raptors, who used a 26-3 run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to turn the game in their favour.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, but the NBA's top team in the regular season saw its bid for a first finals berth in 45 years come to a disappointing end with a fourth consecutive defeat.

Kawhi Leonard powers over Giannis Antetokounmpo for a bucket in Game 6
Image: Kawhi Leonard powers over Giannis Antetokounmpo for a bucket in Game 6

Down 76-71 to start the fourth, the Raptors tied it with an 8-2 run while Leonard and Antetokounmpo were both on the bench.

The Greek Freak then returned after a timeout, but Leonard kept sitting. That didn't matter to Toronto, with Siakam's basket giving the Raptors an 80-78 lead, their first lead since early in the first quarter.

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Leonard's one-handed slam after Lowry's steal gave Toronto an 87-79 lead with 6:46 to go before the Bucks responded. George Hill answered with a layup, Brook Lopez converted a three-point play and Antetokounmpo scored to cut it to 87-86 with 5:19 to go.

Lowry and Lopez swapped baskets before Marc Gasol's three put the Raptors up 92-88 with 3:50 left. After another basket by Lopez, Leonard made a 3 to push Toronto's lead to 95-90 with 3:04 to play. It was Leonard's first three after missing his first seven attempts of the game.

Kawhi Leonard lifts the Eastern Conference Trophy 1:52
Kawhi Leonard came up huge in Game 6 with 27 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists as the Raptors eliminated the Bucks to advance to the NBA Finals

Toronto made 12 of 27 three-point attempts, including four of eight in the fourth quarter.

Siakam, who missed a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter of Toronto's double-overtime win in Game 3, hit one to make it 98-94. Leonard grabbed the rebound on the second and was fouled. He made both, putting the Raptors up 100-94 with 3.9 seconds to go.

Giannis Antetokounmpo  of the Milwaukee Bucks plays against the Toronto Raptors during Game Six of the NBA Eastern Conference Final 1:17
Check out the top five plays from Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Wing players Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton each made a pair from long range as the Bucks shot 6 for 9 from three-point range in the first and closed the quarter with 10 unanswered points to lead 31-18. Toronto shot 6 for 19 in the opening quarter, missing six straight twice in the first 12 minutes.

The Bucks extended their lead to 38-23 on a three by Ersan Ilyasova with 7:46 left until half. Toronto cut the gap to 46-43 on a three by VanVleet with 1:07 left in the second, but Eric Bledsoe answered from beyond the arc and Antetokounmpo split a pair at the line, giving the Bucks a 50-43 advantage at the intermission.

Toronto Raptors celebrate their Eastern Conference title after beating the Bucks
Image: Toronto Raptors celebrate their Eastern Conference title after beating the MIlwaukee Bucks

The lead went back to 15 in the third before Leonard finished the period with a flourish. He had eight points in the final 2:01 and Toronto closed with a 10-0 run, cutting a 15-point deficit to 76-71.

Nick Nurse's team then held the Bucks to just 18 in the fourth to complete the job.

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Raptors fan and 'global ambassador' Drake sat in his regular seat adjacent to the Toronto bench. The rapper wore a black hoodie with 'KAWHI ME A RIVER' printed on the back.

The NBA Finals comes to Canada for the first time when the Raptors host the Warriors on Friday morning. Toronto swept Golden State in the regular season.

Playoff Picture: How Things Stand

Playoff Picture: How Things Stand

How both teams got to the NBA Finals

Game 1 of the NBA Finals takes place in Toronto in the early hours of Friday morning (2am) live on Sky Sports Arena.

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