Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is fouled by the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo in game one of the NBA Eastern Conference finals in Milwaukee. Picture: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/AP
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is fouled by the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo in game one of the NBA Eastern Conference finals in Milwaukee. Picture: Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press/AP

Raptors choke in NBA opener against Bucks

THE Milwaukee Bucks have completed a stunning second-half comeback to sink the Toronto Raptors on Thursday (AEST) and take a 1-0 lead in the NBA's Eastern Conference finals.

The Raptors kept the Bucks at arms length for the majority of the clash, going into the half-time break with a 59-51 lead.

But the Bucks, helped along by a star performance from centre Brook Lopez (29 points), weren't buried and scraped back to a one-point lead by three-quarter time.

The thriller was set up and while it appeared Toronto was always one step ahead on court, the battle wasn't easy as Milwaukee continued to find drops of gas in the tank.

A perfectly potted three from Khris Middleton scraped the lead back for the Bucks with six minutes left on the clock. Middleton kept the pressure on and set up Malcolm Brogdon with a half-court bounce pass to bring the lead to 96-91.

A missed bucket from the Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points) with three minutes to go kept the equation to two points, but a late charge from Lopez - who sank a beautiful three late in the piece - helped the home side run away and complete an eight-point victory.

He finished one point short of 30 with 11 rebounds and two assists to aid the Bucks' comeback.

It was a rough night beyond the paint for the hosts, who shot at just 25 per cent in the first game of the series. But it was even worse for the Raptors, who were absymal in the final quarter.

Veteran Kyle Lowry was the only one to net a field goal, with his fellow Raptors falling short an incredible 15 times.

The win extends the Bucks' streak to five at the pointy end of the year, continuing their hot run of form after downing Boston 4-1.

The victor of this series will play the winner of the Western Conference, where the Warriors are up 1-0 against the Portland Trail Blazers.

News Corp Australia

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