The Milwaukee Bucks saw a ‘ great Brook Lopez’ in their Game 1 win over the Toronto Raptors, said head coach Mike Budenholzer.
Milwaukee Bucks 1-0 Toronto Raptors
- Game 1: Raptors 100-108 Bucks | Box Score
- Game 2: Raptors @ Bucks, May 18, 1:30am
- Game 3: Bucks @ Raptors, May 20, 12am
- Game 4: Bucks @ Raptors, May 22, 1:30am
- Game 5 if necessary: Raptors @ Bucks, May 24, 1:30am
- Game 6 if necessary: Bucks @ Raptors, May 26, 1:30am
- Game 7 if necessary: Raptors @ Bucks, May 28, 1:30am
- All games broadcast live on Sky Sports Arena
Live NBA: Toronto @ Milwaukee
Bucks center Lopez produced a career-playoff-best 29 points, hauled in 11 rebounds and contributed defensively with four blocks as Milwaukee used a fourth-quarter surge to beat the Raptors 108-100 in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Asked in the post-game news conference about Lopez’s performance, Budenholzer said: “The thing that stands out was the put-backs, the stuff around the basket. We were struggling offensively and he was able to manufacture a couple of things.
“Defensively I thought he was there several times in the fourth quarter making blocks, big-time contests and rebounding. In a big moment, that was a great Brook Lopez tonight.”
Lopez, who came into Game 1 averaging just 8.33 points per game, reflected on Milwaukee’s late rally and said he felt it showed the team’s adaptability in tough situations.
“The shots weren’t dropping in early but we just kept grinding it out. It goes to show we can close games out in multiple ways and different fashions,” he said.
“We all struggled a bit shooting the ball – I know I did. I’m so thankful I have got a group of team-mates that support me 100 per cent. They just want me to keep going out there and doing my job.
“All throughout the season and in the playoffs, different guys have been stepping up. Different guys have been having big nights. It was definitely good to see us win in a different way tonight.”
Bucks franchise star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who supplied a 24-point, 14-rebound double-double in the victory, offered wholesome praise of his team-mate Lopez’s game-winning effort.
“This is the Brook we all know and we all love,” he said. “We all want him to be aggressive, especially in this series. He is going to knock down shots like he did tonight. Especially when he has got it going, we have to find him more and more.
“When things don’t go well, in the past the team didn’t do great. But this year is insane. Even though I don’t play well, the team is able to respond, to hold their own.”
After watching his team be outscored 32-17 in the fourth quarter, Raptors coach Nick Nurse was left to reflect on a wasted opportunity.
“It’s just we’re learning that each one of these games is critical. I thought we played tough tonight, a tough brand of basketball for the most part. We gave ourselves a chance to win on the road in an Eastern Conference Final that didn’t [end in our favour] and we put in a lot of work,” he said.
“But you’ve got to file that one away and put in more work next time. We’ve got to get some rest here tonight, focus in on our film, figure out some adjustments, build some confidence. Then, again, once it gets ready to go up for Game 2, we’ve got to be tough.
Game 2 takes place in Milwaukee in the early hours of Saturday morning (1:30am) live on Sky Sports Arena.
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