Finals in stone after historic NBA moment
THE Toronto Raptors will challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA crown after winning the Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 100-94 to take the best-of-seven series 4-2 before a home crowd at the Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night.
Kawhi Leonard led scoring for Toronto, racking up 27 points with 17 rebounds, while, for the Bucks, fellow superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 and had 11 rebounds.
Golden State had already beaten the Portland Trail Blazers to reach the NBA Finals, which begin on Thursday.
The schedule for the seven-game deciding series was released minutes after the final bell when Toronto sealed the deal against the unlucky Milwaukee pack.
A gutted Antetokounmpo abruptly upped stumps at the post-game press conference after being asked about their opinions on experience in the Bucks side.
Down 76-71 to start the fourth, the Raptors tied it with an 8-2 run while Leonard and Antetokounmpo were both on the bench. Ibaka's dunk with 10:32 to go tied it at 78.
Antetokounmpo returned after a timeout, but Leonard kept sitting. That didn't matter to Toronto, with Siakam's basket giving the Raptors an 80-78 lead, their first lead since it was 6-3.
Leonard's one-handed slam after Lowry's steal gave Toronto an 87-79 lead with 6:46 to go before the Bucks responded. George Hill answered with a lay-up, Brook Lopez converted a three-point play and Antetokounmpo scored to cut it to 87-86 with 5:19to go.
Lowry and Lopez swapped baskets before Gasol's 3 put the Raptors up 92-88 with 3:50 left. After another basket by Lopez, Leonard made a 3 to push Toronto's lead to 95-90 with 3:04 to play. It was Leonard's first 3 after missing his first seven attempts of the game.
Toronto made 12 of 27 3-point attempts, including four of eight in the fourth quarter.
Siakam, who missed a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter of Toronto's double-overtime win in Game 3, hit one to make it 98-94. Leonard grabbed the rebound on the second and was fouled. He made both, putting the Raptors up 100-94 with 3.9 seconds to go.
Brogdon and Middleton each made a pair from long range as the Bucks shot 6 for 9 from 3-point range in the first and closed the quarter with 10 unanswered points to lead 31-18. Toronto shot 6 for 19 in the opening quarter, missing six straight twice in the first 12 minutes.
The Bucks extended their lead to 38-23 on a 3 by Ersan Ilyasova with 7:46 left until half. Toronto cut the gap to 46-43 on a 3 by Van Vleet with 1:07 left in the second, but Eric Bledsoe answered with a 3 and Antetokounmpo split a pair at the line, giving the Bucks a 50-43 advantage at the intermission.
The lead went back to 15 in the third before Leonard finished the period with a flourish. He had eight points in the final 2:01 and Toronto closed with a 10-0 run, cutting a 15-point deficit to 76-71.