The Toronto Raptors have rallied back to knot the Eastern Conference finals at 2-2 entering Thursday's Game 5 against the host Milwaukee Bucks. Toronto averaged 119 points in back-to-back triumphs on its homecourt, including an impressive 120-102 victory in Tuesday's Game 4.
The Bucks played their worst game of the series in Game 4 and the 2-0 lead they once held has evaporated. "It was disappointing, but I mean, the series is 2-2," Milwaukee small forward Khris Middleton told reporters. "It's not the end of the world. They protect their home court just like we did, and I know the fight is going to be a dogfight. First team to two wins. Can't feel sorry for ourselves that we lost two in a row here. We have to go protect home court and go from there." Toronto coach Nick Nurse is looking for the same type of effort his club displayed in Game 4 as it looks to take the series lead. "Each game is its own entity," Nurse told reporters. "Let's see if ... we can go do it in Milwaukee. We need to take this challenge of playing in a hostile environment, right? We're going into a tough, loud place to play, and let's see if those guys can bring that same pop and focus, determination on the road."
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT, TSN (Toronto)
ABOUT THE RAPTORS: Star small forward Kawhi Leonard topped 30 points in each of the first three games of the series but had just 19 in Game 4 while often appearing to be hindered by a left leg injury. "I think he's fine," Nurse said. "He's certainly tired, like a lot of guys in this series are. ... He's got tremendous will. He's got tremendous desire, and there's one time I was trying to give him an extended rest there, and he didn't really want it. So he must be OK." Point guard Kyle Lowry scored 25 points in Game 2 - his second-highest output of the series - while power forward Serge Ibaka played his best game of the series with 17 points and 13 rebounds.
ABOUT THE BUCKS: Point guard Eric Bledsoe has been a nonfactor in the series by averaging 8.3 points and making just 11-of-45 shots. Middleton and Bledsoe each were 3-of-16 from the field in the Game 3 loss but only Middleton (11-of-15) shook it off as Bledsoe (2-of-7) continued to struggle. "We're going to need Bled," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters. "Eric's been great for us, his defense, his ability to attack. We need him to play better. We need the group (of guards) to play better."
1. Raptors reserve swingman Norman Powell is averaging 17 points over the past three contests.
2. Milwaukee star PF Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points and 10 rebounds in Game 4 for his fourth straight double-double.
3. Toronto backup PG Fred VanVleet scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting in Game 4 after making just 7-of-44 shots over the previous 10 contests.
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Key Players to Watch
- POINTS/G 1994 Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 | SF
- REBOUNDS OFFENSIVE/G 159 Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 | SF
- ASSISTS/G 430 Eric Bledsoe #6 | PG
- 3 POINTS % 187 Brook Lopez #11 | C
- REBOUNDS DEFENSIVE/G 739 Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 | SF
- BLOCKS/G 179 Brook Lopez #11 | C
- STEALS/G 116 Eric Bledsoe #6 | PG
- TURNOVERS/G 1 Jaylen Morris #30 | SG
Game 5: Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks - Eastern Conference Finals
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- AnkleProb Tues | probable
Wilson is battling left ankle soreness but is likely to suit up for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors.
- AnkleProb Fri | probable
Wilson has a left ankle sprain but is expected to suit up for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors.
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- HandProb Thurs | probable
Lowry is nursing a right hand injury but is likely to play in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Bucks.
- LegProb Tues | probable
Leonard is expected to play against the Bucks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals despite a left leg injury.
- BackProb Wed | probable
Boucher is dealing with back spasms but it is likely he will play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Bucks.
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