As the series turned to Toronto, Game 3 was all about whether Kawhi could get enough production from his teammates to complement his brilliance.
Despite struggling in the first two games of the series, Pascal Siakam racked up 25 points and 11 rebounds in 51 minutes. Not to mention the huge defensive play Siakam made on Brook Lopez at the end of the second overtime period. Blocking Lopez with the Raptors leading 112-110, Siakam more than made up for his costly pair of missed free throws at the end of the fourth quarter.
Marc Gasol came into Game 3 shooting a dismal 3-20 from the field and 2-9 from the three-point-line in 59 minutes. The Spaniard’s production in Game 3 was critical, chipping in with 16 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 5 blocks. With Gasol posing a threat from the three-point-line on 4-8 shooting, Lopez was forced to close out, giving the Raptors different looks to what they were getting on the road in Milwaukee.
As Danny Green continues to struggle with his shot (1-9 in Game 3), Nick Nurse may well look to Norman Powell for production as the series progresses. Off the bench, Powell added 19 points to go alongside the 14 points he scored in Game 2, before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Kawhi’s impact on both ends of the floor simply can’t be overstated. The leading scorer in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Kawhi added another monumental effort to a growing list of standout games this post-season. Scoring 36 points and adding 9 rebounds the Klaw came up clutch when his team needed him most. Interestingly for the first time this series, Kawhi was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s primary defender. The 2x NBA Defensive Player of the Year disrupted the Greek Freak immensely. Shooting just 5-16 for 12 points in 45 minutes, the MVP candidate fouled out with a whimper with 4:24 left in the second period of overtime.
The Raptors fans will hold their breath in hope that the noticeable grimace on Leonard’s face throughout Game 3 is nothing serious going forward. As he told TNT reporter Kristen Ledlow post-game when asked about the severity of his injury, “This is playoff basketball. Everyone is hurting.”
“Right now I’m about to just enjoy this win.”
Kawhi after the Raptors secure the Game 3 dub at home.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 20, 2019
Milwaukee won’t be overly concerned, however, heading into Game 4 on Tuesday night in Toronto. The Bucks kept the game close throughout and will hope Khris Middleton will finally have a breakthrough game this series. Going just 3-16 for 9 points in 44 minutes, Middleton hasn’t scored more than 12 points in a game this series. As we have seen in the opening three games, the Bucks bench has provided a spark Toronto has not been able to match. George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon both once again showed out adding 20 plus points last night. Even in a losing effort, the Bucks bench outscored the Raptors bench 54-27. Toronto’s key pieces produced in Game 3 as the Raptors sneaked past the Bucks 118-112 after two overtime periods.
Can Toronto’s key pieces once again contribute heavily? that’s the all-important question heading into Tuesday’s crucial game. As two superstars of the Eastern Conference continue to go toe-to-toe, Kawhi has put down his marker but how will the Greek Freak respond in Game 4?
Feature photo – David Zalubowski / STF / Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images / Double Clutch illustration – Matthew Wellington