15. 2017 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Game 6 vs. Bucks
In the first round of the 2017 postseason, the Raptors learned how much of a force Giannis Antetokounmpo could be in the NBA playoffs. During the series, Antetokounmpo averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two blocks and two steals per game for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was a one-man wrecking crew, an unstoppable force that Toronto needed to slow down.
Despite Antetokounmpo’s herculean efforts, the Raptors found themselves up 3-2 heading into Game 6. DeMar DeRozan was having a series of his own. While he wasn’t playing quite to the level of Antetokounmpo, his supporting cast was significantly better.
The year prior, the Raptors needed two seven-game series to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
In 2017, they were hoping to have a little easier of a road. Antetokounmpo had been such a force in the opening part of the series, you didn’t want to test your luck against a supernova performance in a winner-take-all Game 7. It’s safe to say the Raptors had a lot riding on a road Game 6 performance.
They controlled the entire first three quarters. Milwaukee scored just 61 points, including only 21 from players not named Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton. Through three quarters, Matthew Dellavedova was the team’s third-leading scorer.
The Bucks couldn’t stop DeRozan, who dropped 24 points through three on greater than 50-percent shooting. It looked as if the Raptors were going to cruise to an easy victory, up by 13 heading into the final quarter.
But things are never that easy in Toronto. Milwaukee went on an insane 19-5 run to start the fourth. After a huge Jason Terry triple, the Bucks took the lead with just three minutes left.
The teams went back-and-forth a bit. With 1:27 remaining Corey Joseph hit a monster 3-point dagger. The next possession, Toronto got a stop. Then, up three with less than a minute remaining, DeRozan threw down a nasty, in-traffic jam to twist the dagger in the Bucks’ ribcage. A huge moment, from Toronto’s key player.
A two-possession lead with little time left, the Raptors were able to close out the game relatively easily. DeRozan put an exclamation point on the series. The Raptors would move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.