The Milwaukee Bucks rallied late to secure a 108-100 win in Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors, holding them to 41 second-half points, including just 17 in the fourth quarter.
With the game on the line, the Bucks zeroed in on Kawhi Leonard, using their length and athleticism to force the ball out of his hands, showing him a crowd at every turn, limiting him to just two points in the fourth quarter on 0-of-3 shooting from the field.
"Amazing job," Giannis Antetokunmpo said post-game of the Bucks' efforts to slow down Leonard. "Obviously he's the focal point of their offence and I think we did a great job sending him left.
"He's trying to go right and get to his spot and rise up or go all the way. I think guys like Brook [Lopez], Niko [Nikola Mirotic], Ersan [Ilyasova] did a great job just being active behind and showed him bodies."
"You know Kawhi's Kawhi, he's going to hit shots, he's going to make tough shots but at the end of the day we try to make that as tough as we can and in the fourth quarter it was tough for him and I think we made him feel us the whole game and that's what we're trying to do as a team, trying to make him play one against five."
The Bucks hounded Leonard on the perimeter and will be more than satisfied limiting him to just three shot attempts, with Kyle Lowry (5-of-7) the only Raptor to record a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Outside of Lowry, the Raptors went 0-of-15 in the fourth and while the Bucks defence deserves plenty of credit, Leonard said his team has to do a better job of knocking down open shots, when asked what went wrong down the stretch.
Raptors in 2nd half:- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) May 16, 2019
- Lowry and Leonard: 12-24 FG, 37 points
- Siakam: 1-8 FG, 4 points
- Everyone else: 0-15 FG, 0 points
Here's the 'Everyone else' shot chart in the 2nd half. pic.twitter.com/OwMMKXEJX7
"A couple of key turnovers, missed some easy layups, wide open threes and we didn't play too well on defence and they ended up scoring their highest quarter of points in the fourth, 32 points and the offensive rebounds pretty much summed it up," Leonard said post-game.
"Just better defence, hopefully we can make some of our open looks, got a lot of clean looks in the second half and we gotta limit them. can't let them have this many offensive rebounds, especially at home."
The Bucks grabbed seven more offensive rebounds than the Raptors on the night and in the fourth quarter outrebounded them 18-6 as they finished the game with a much higher intensity.
Coming off a grueling seven-game series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors appeared to run out of gas in the second half with Leonard, Siakam, Lowry and Gasol all logging 40+ minutes, however, Leonard dismissed their heavy legs as the contributing factor to the loss.
"It could be, but there's no excuses, we're all out on the floor, like I said we had open looks that we could've made. We started off the game well, just didn't finish it too great."