(NEW YORK TIMES) — The Toronto Raptors eliminated the Milwaukee Bucks, 100-94, Saturday night in the sixth game of their Eastern Conference playoff series, bringing the N.B.A. finals to Canada for the first time.
The win — Toronto’s fourth straight in the best-of-seven conference finals — cemented a stunning comeback for a Raptors team used to postseason disappointment. Milwaukee’s loss was just as surprising for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, who had the regular season’s best record (60-22) and opened this series with back-to-back victories.
But the Raptors, behind 36 points from Kawhi Leonard in Game 3 and 25 points from Kyle Lowry in Game 4, dug themselves out of that early hole to even the series at two games apiece.
Game 5, in Milwaukee, could have been the Bucks’ revenge. But their bench (15 points) disappeared just as Toronto’s (35 points) came alive, led by 21 points from Fred VanVleet. The result was a series-deciding game on hostile ground in Toronto, with history on the line.
The Raptors, whose first season in the N.B.A. was 1995-96, had been to the Eastern Conference finals only once before, in 2016. They lost that year to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who went on to win the N.B.A. finals in seven games over the team Toronto will now face: the Golden State Warriors.