Bucks rout Raptors to take 2-0 NBA Eastern Conference finals lead

Giannis Antetokounmpo pauses during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff finals against the Toronto Raptors. (AFP pic)

LOS ANGELES: Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a convincing 125-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors Friday for a 2-0 lead in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

The top-seeded Bucks, who rallied to win game one of the best-of-seven series, never trailed and led by as many as 28 points to double their lead in the series, which moves to Toronto for games three and four on Sunday and Tuesday.

“Mentally, we were ready for this game,” Antetokounmpo said. “Once the game started, we did a great job setting the tone. We knew Toronto was going to come and try to play hard and try to get one at our place.”

The Bucks made sure the Raptors never got a sniff, roaring to an 18-point lead in the first quarter on the back of nine quick points from Nikola Mirotic and a 12-o scoring run late in the period.

Milwaukee led by 25 points, 64-39, at halftime, with Ersan Ilyasova contributing 15 and Malcolm Brogdon 12 off the Bucks’ bench as the hosts’ reserves out-scored Toronto’s 31-11 in the first half.

Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points. He came out firing in the third quarter but despite his aggression the Raptors never got the deficit below 13.

Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points, connecting on just four of 13 shots from the field. Norman Powell added 14 off the bench, but they were the only Raptors to score in double figures.

Milwaukee notched their sixth straight win in these playoffs and their sixth post-season victory by at least 20 points tying an NBA record.

Antetokounmpo, one of three finalists for the NBA Most Valuable Player award announced on Friday along with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Paul George, said the honour was far form his thoughts despite the chants of “MVP! MVP!” that fans rained on him.

“I don’t care about that right now,” he said. “I care about going to Toronto and focusing for game three.”