There is bad news and there is bad news. The bad news is, the Bucks got what they wanted Thursday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in terms of tempo and still lost. And the other bad news is we saw first-hand the difference between a current $35 Million Dollar Man and a future $45 Million Dollar Man. Kawhi Leonard was simply too much down the stretch for the Bucks to overcome and they fall to the Raptors at home to go down in the series 3 games to 2 going back to Canada.
Sure it would have been nice if Middleton and Mirotic and Lopez had hit a few more threes but that wasn’t the determining factor in the game. Sure it would have been nice if VanVleet would have missed occasionally but somebody was gonna score those points anyway. Toronto got the “coin flip” plays and Kawhi Leonard was just way more than the Bucks could handle. Giannis had a very familiar looking stat line but the superstar on the other side of the court was the guy that closed out the game.
I’m well aware that throwing any type of shade on Giannis is not going to be a winning proposition in this area but the bottom line is, their superstar was better than our superstar in the first game of a race to two wins. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Giannis is facing a wall of guys more than willing to just stand there and let him run into them. This ain’t Detroit from Series 1 where every Piston had a tee time for the morning after Game 4. This is to go to the Finals.
The stakes have been raised and the relatively inexperienced Bucks get to see what they are made of. They just need to continue to come out firing. And Giannis has to find a way to negotiate what they have waiting or do a better job of getting his shoots by getting the ball in the right spots. .Kawhi Leonard knows a trip to the Finals is in his hands..literally. Giannis has to wrap his head around that theory. This is far from over…watch to see how Giannis reacts to an elimination game in hostile territory. There were zero role players on either side Thursday night that determined the outcome of that game. Thursday night was The Freak v The Claw…Freak fought The Claw and The Claw won…plain and simple.