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Klaw, VanVleet Lead Raptors to Stunning Game 5 Victory at the Forum

“I expect him to be good.”

Head Coach Nick Nurse believed in his superstar, Kawhi Leonard, heading into a pivotal Game 5, and his superstar delivered!

The legend of The Klaw only continues to grow.

With Game 5 on the line – a crucial 3-2 series lead in the balance – Leonard pulled it off.

Down 2-0, repeatedly counted out by international media and look at these Toronto Raptors now. Up 3-2 in a best-of-seven series, with the opportunity to clinch their first Finals berth on home turf on Saturday night. No one saw this one coming (well, maybe not no one), but the Raptors pulled off the unthinkable, winning a crucial road game by a score of 105-99.

What a crazy night it was!

Headlined by a huge 35 points, including 15 points from Leonard in the fourth quarter, the Raptors played the perfect playoff road game, albeit a game that was an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. Despite every shot thrown their way by the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors continue to remain in striking distance through the first 36-minutes, allowing them to find a way to steal one in the fourth quarter in front of a shocked and hostile opposing crowd.

“I thought our guys hung in there and took a lot of punches tonight and just stayed on their feet and kept on playing,” said Nurse following the win.

Falling down 18-4 right out of the gate, the Raptors locked down defensively in the second quarter and once again, the second unit came to play.

It started with Fred VanVleet Sr.

Call it dad strength, but since the birth of his son, we have been pleasantly re-introduced to Steady Freddy. Tonight, VanVleet poured in 21-points off the bench, hitting every clutch three-point shot necessary, seven of them in fact, finishing with a game-high net rating of +28. He was paced by 17 big points from Kyle Lowry who once again continued to do all the little things all over the court to help push the Raptors towards victory.

Despite yet another off-night from Danny Green, and a poor offensive performance from Marc Gasol, the Raptors defense stepped up in a big way, holding the Bucks to just 67-points over the final three quarters, finding big stop after big stop down the stretch. The Bucks were still a +8 on the glass, and shot at a 45-percent clip from the field, but the Raptors were able to force Milwaukee into 11 turnovers, completely neutralize Khris Middleton and for the most part shut down their second unit.

As for Giannis Antetokounmpo, The Greek Freak faced a heavy dosage of double-teams all night and finished with 24 quiet points. The Raptors forced the ball out of his hands and smothered him whenever he was in the paint, forcing him to earn points at the charity stripe, rather than punish their defense with ferocious dunks.

The Bucks made their adjustment in plugging Malcolm Brogdon into the starting lineup, all but benching a noticeably rattled Nikola Mirotic in the second half, yet the Raptors forced the Bucks to beat them in the half court. Cutting down their turnovers, the Raptors refused to let the Bucks run after the first quarter, while closing out on shooters, daring them to make plays in space.

Once again, despite Drake’s infamous words in the middle of the pandemonium at Jurassic Park, the series is far from over, but that being said, it will be up to the Raptors to make sure that their next flight will be to the west coast to face the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 at The Oracle.

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