Antetokounmpo scores 28 points, Bucks beat Raptors 97-83

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Toronto Raptors guard/forward P.J. Tucker (illness) did not practice on Friday but is expected to play Saturday versus the Milwaukee Bucks, per head coach Dwane Casey.

If it weren't for the unbelievable 42 triple-doubles of Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook, not to mention the 22 of the Houston Rockets' James Harden, Bucks coach Jason Kidd believes Antetokounmpo would be squarely in the Most Valuable Player discussion.

Milwaukee ended its season with a 112-94 loss at Boston and the Bucks were just 2-4 in their last six games. He also is the Bucks' leader in each of these stats, making him one of just five players to ever do lead his team in each of the five major statistics, the last being LeBron James in 2008.

The encouraging thing from the Bucks' standpoint is that they went 14-4 in March and were 21-15 overall after their most recent loss to Toronto on January 27.

The Milwaukee Bucks (42-40) meet the Toronto Raptors (51-31) in Game 1 of a best-of-seven Eastern Conference series in the 2017 NBA Playoffs on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. "We didn't play with any pace, any rhythm, any movement". Play hard and understand that it's not going to be easy games.

Enjoy it. For the first time in the Raptors' four-year playoff run, there's a modicum of confidence surrounding the team.

"If I had the answer, maybe we would have pulled it out tonight", DeRozan said. "We've been proving people wrong up to this point and we're going to continue to do so".

numberFire's metrics project Tucker for 6.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.9 3-pointers in 25.9 minutes versus Milwaukee in Game 1.

We know a Spanish big man is headed to the second round. If they can put up plenty of early points against him, it will force the Raptors' other defenders to start covering for him more often. The Raptors have also played well lately, going 8-2 in their final ten games.

No player in Saturday's Game 1 recorded more rebounds than Monroe, no bench player surfacing as the top reserve on a night when Monroe posted a double-double (14 points and a game-high 15 boards).

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The Cavs are No. 1 in the East with a 51-28 record and will play Chicago, Indiana or Miami in the first round of the playoffs. The most in a season by a player besides these two is from Artis Gilmore in 1978, an era of huge Afros and tiny shorts.

"On paper, it all looks good when you make trades, but you hope they all gel".

But oh my goodness, we need to talk about what Greek Freak did.

The Raptors' Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan want to shake off the memories of a slow start in the 2015-16 playoffs.

"He's totally different than anything else in our league", Casey said. "We've been there before". "I feel like I'm one of the better rookies in the class", said Murray, the seventh overall pick out of Kentucky. They will be largely dependent on a player approaching all-world status in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon both played crucial roles in resurrecting their season after they stood at 22-30.

"When he came out I thought his teammates picked him up", Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. When Parker went down, it made Milwaukee a one-man team and that isn't going to turn out well today in Toronto.

"I think we're in a good spot", VanVleet said.

At the heart of this Raptors team is Kyle Lowry, its soul and leader.

Neither team led by more than 10 points through the game's first three quarters. Cory Joseph filled in admirably as the starting point guard during that stretch, while Tucker and Ibaka fortified the team's defensive prowess.

Lowry instead turned his focus to the No. 6-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto's opening round opponent for the postseason. This is how Milwaukee defended them in the regular season.

While the regular season is a grueling slog that forces teams to think big picture, the National Basketball Association playoffs are a different beast. DeRozan finished the season 292nd in that category, contesting only 4.2 shots each night. Valanciunas leads in rebounds with 9.5 per game while Lucas Nogueira leads in blocks with 1.6 per game.

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