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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Takeaways from Toronto Raptors' big Game 5 win over Milwaukee Bucks

Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard (Getty Images)

The Toronto Raptors pulled out the biggest road win in franchise history and are now one win away from advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.

They've now won three straight games against a Bucks team that did not lose three straight the entire season.

There's far more to come, but here's how the Raptors pulled it off.

Kawhi takes over late

As he's done all postseason, Kawhi Leonard saved his best for the fourth quarter. While there were no buzzer-beaters as the time expired, he scored 15 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter and grossly outplayed MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Leonard's biggest play in the fourth quarter may not have been any of his points, but rather a big offensive rebound with 1:48 left after missing a 3-pointer immediately following a dunk by Antetokounmpo on the other end. Had the Bucks gotten that rebound, they would have had the ball with a chance to take the lead. Instead, Leonard went to the line and sank a pair of free throws to extend the lead back up to three.

Game of Runs

If you're a believer in the idiom "basketball is a game of runs", then Game 5 was right up your alley.

From the opening tip and into the fourth quarter, this game was defined by massive swings in either direction.

  • Bucks: 18-4 run to open game
  • Raptors: 18-2 run spanning 1st and 2nd quarter (12-pt deficit to 4-pt lead)
  • Bucks: 14-2 run in 3rd quarter (tie game to 12-pt lead)
  • Raptors: 9-0 run in 3rd quarter (12-pt deficit to 3-pt deficit)

In both instances of a big Milwaukee run, the Raptors weathered the storm and prevented the Bucks from truly running away with it as they've done time and time again at home this season.

The biggest run of all?

A Raptors' 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that turned a 2-point deficit into an 8-point lead. Although the Bucks rallied to tie it up, that run gave the Raptors a much needed cushion to help withstand the inevitable push down the stretch by the home team.

Fred VanVleet, Father of the Year

Two days ago, Fred VanVleet had the best game of his career.

In Game 5, he was even better.

Mired in a shooting slump over the first three games of the series and extending all the way back to the first round against the Orlando Magic, VanVleet has been incredible over the last two games for the Raptors.

On Friday, he exploded for 21 points off the bench while shooting 7-9 from beyond the 3-point line. In the 37 minutes he was on the floor, the Raptors outscored the Bucks by a whopping 28 points. For some perspective, no other Raptors player was better than plus-9.

It's been quite the whirlwind of a week for VanVleet who flew to Illinois for the birth of his son on the day before Game 4 before returning to Toronto the day of Game 4. After once again traveling to be with his family following that game, he showed up and delivered the game of his life to send the Raptors back to Toronto needing just one more win to reach the NBA Finals.

What happens next?

Just how important was this game? In NBA history, the Game 5 winner of a best-of-seven series tied 2-2 has gone on to win the series 82% of the time.

MORE: How did the Raptors and Bucks fare against the Warriors?

Game 6 is Sunday in Toronto while Game 7, if necessary, is scheduled for Tuesday in Milwaukee.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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