The Milwaukee Bucks season came to an end last night despite a historic 25-point comeback. The Raptors defeated the Bucks 92-89 and will advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
DeMar DeRozan led the way for the Raptors with 32 points.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading scorer for the Bucks with 34 points, a career playoff-high.
“We lost our composure a little bit,” Raptors coach Dwayne Casey said to reporters after the game. “We found a way to hold on. That’s what good teams do.”
Midway through the third quarter, the game was over. The Bucks trailed 46-71, and the BMO Harris Bradley Center was silent. DeMarre Carroll had just nailed a three-pointer, forcing coach Jason Kidd to use a timeout.
Fans were stunned. This game was eerily similar to a 54-point playoff loss at home to the Bulls in 2015. It seemed to be another devastating blow to end the season in front of the home crowd.
But the Bucks fought.
Following coach Kidd’s timeout, the Bucks caught fire. Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Dellavedova all hit three-point shots. The Bucks found themselves on a 15-3 run to end the quarter.
Only trailing 61-74 heading into the final quarter, the Bucks were alive again and so were the fans. The Bradley Center was rowdy. The crowd looked like a sea of white towels being rapidly waved, as each fan received one on their seat before the game.
The Bucks continue to close the gap despite poor fourth quarter free throw shooting. After cutting the lead to two points, Bucks fans were in a fury.
Then Jason Terry drained a three-pointer to give the Bucks an 80-78 lead prompting Raptors coach Dwayne Casey to call a timeout.
The Bucks did the impossible. A 25-point second half comeback.
The Bucks weren’t only back in the game, they were in control. And then they weren’t.
After an exchange of baskets, the Raptors went on a 9-0 run.
DeRozan drove to the lane and slammed one home silencing the crowd. The Bucks scrambled to shoot a quick three-point shot but missed and were forced to foul Corey Joseph
Joseph sunk both free throws. With under 40 seconds the Bucks trailed 82-89 and the game seemed over once again. A historic comeback falling just short. The Bradley Center once again silent.
But there was still time on the clock. The Bucks inbounded and dribbled up the court quickly before Khris Middleton was fouled on a three-point shot by Serge Ibaka. Middleton hit 2 of 3 free throws.
After the Raptors inbounded the ball, the Bucks defense swarmed trapping Kyle Lowry forcing an errant pass. Bucks ball. Then Antetokounmpo dashed up the court, passed it to veteran guard Jason Terry who drilled another clutch three-pointer with 19.4 seconds cutting the deficit to two points. The Bucks now trailed 87-89 and the Bradley Center was rocking.
With the shot clock off, the Bucks were forced to foul Raptors star player DeMar DeRozan, an 84 percent free throw shooter. The Bucks crowd was screaming in unison in an attempt to distract the Raptors All-Star. And it worked. DeRozan made only 1 of 2 and the Bucks had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer.
Antetokounmpo handled the possession, and after failing to get a clean look drove to the lane and dunked with 3.5 seconds left. While this cut the lead to one point, the Bucks were in desperate need of a three-pointer.
It appeared Antetokounmpo panicked a little as he saw time dwindle and the Raptors let him drive to the lane knowing the Bucks needed a three-pointer to tie.
The Bucks quickly fouled and sent DeRozan to the line again. This time he hit both. With two seconds left the Bucks had a chance to inbound the ball and heave a three-pointer to tie the game.
But Tony Snell’s inbound pass was stolen by Patrick Patterson and just like that the Bucks season was over.
A historic comeback falling microscopically short.
“We always talk about the little things, and when we look at this it comes down to just free throws,” coach Jason Kidd said to reporters after the game. “We don’t need to overanalyze it. We got to the stripe and we just couldn’t capitalize on that.”
Kidd is referring the Bucks shooting a dismal 9-of-18 from the line in the fourth quarter.
The Raptors will play the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals after a 4-2 series win against the Bucks.