Title: Raptors survive double-overtime theatre of the absurd, make it a series against Bucks
Date: May 19, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about a ludicrous double-overtime Game 3 between the Raptors and Bucks that was, in my estimation, perfect.
It is difficult to talk about any play of that game without talking about every play of that game.
It seems easiest to start with about six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry had been back in the game for all of 59 seconds. Earlier in the fourth, he’d returned for 58, promptly hitting a 3 and then picking up his fifth foul. At that point, there were nine minutes to go, and Raptors head coach Nick Nurse played it conservative and sat Lowry down for a few minutes to make sure he’d be around for the stretch run. It was for naught. Lowry set up a Norman Powell 3, then picked up his sixth foul, ending his night.
At that point, things felt perilous for the Raptors. Giannis Antetokounmpo had already cut an eight-point lead to three, and Lowry had been the Raptors’ second best player on the night so far. Doing his usual whirling defensive performance and knocking down 3s like he had in his monstrous Game 1 showing, the Raptors were plus-15 in Lowry’s 31 minutes and change. What’s more, his absence meant Fred VanVleet would be closing. VanVleet has struggled scoring all postseason, and while his defence has largely been strong, it can be difficult to appreciate amid a 1-for-11 shooting performance. The drop-off seemed dramatic, and with Lowry’s quick stint only extending the lead as far as six, it felt like a potentially critical blow.