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The influence of a transcendent star

TORONTO – In the terminology of the Toronto Raptors it's called "Drive-Kick-Swing". While Drive Kick Swing was one of the mainstays in the Raptors playlist of practice exercises, it was shown in bright spotlight in the fourth game of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena.

In the third quarter, Kawhi Leonard was at the wheel, the "drive" in drive-kick swing. Leonard was led by guard Malcolm Brogdon to drive to the left – having played all series of Milwaukee Bucks defenders. Leonard was obliged and met, as in this series, two more defenders when he reached the paint.

After picking up his dribble, he was followed by several bodies. Here comes the "kick": Leonard distributed the ball to Fred VanVleet on the left wing beyond the arch. With so many defensive resources available to Leonard, Bucks guard George Hill on the left had to be responsible for VanVleet and his team-mate Norman Powell in the corner.

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Finally the "swing". When Hill VanVleet closed, the Raptors Powell guard handed over the ball. Of Powell's 18 field-goal attempts in Game 4, this shot was the most delicious. Open 3-point points are the NBA basketball's milk in 2019. Powell dropped him to bring the Raptors to 10 points.

The lead would never again be limited to single-digit numbers, as the Raptors received massive contributions from their players to retire to a 120-102 win, and even the series will be 2-1.

"Kawhi will "Attention all the time, no matter what," said Kyle Lowry, point guard of the Raptors, to ESPN. "It's the Kawhi Effect."

The privilege of having a transcendent superstar like Leonard is not just the gift of the unique achievement a game wins even though Leonard has done much in the last six weeks of the postseason, the team also enjoys the ability to deploy a defense like that of Milwaukee, which puts all their weight and diligence into it "He's going to play us some games – he's a superstar," Lowry said, "but then you have nights like tonight, in which he just lets everyone else do his thing and he does not do so much.

must protrude. He did not touch the ball very often in the first quarter. But we attacked and moved that. "Ball away from the attention he drew."

The relief of Leonard was essential for Toronto, as the three-time All-Star was still gassed after Game 3. Although there was no specific diagnosis and Leonard insists that he feels well, Raptor coach Nick Nurse calls his best player "tired" and Lowry "a bit limited". Leonard's 19 points were his lowest performance since the third match of the Raptors first-round series against Orlando, a night in which he was under the weather.

The high-level defense of The Bucks has set its principles throughout the year and refines regular season and playoffs. While Milwaukee has introduced one or two tweaks to certain matchups, his overall strategy has not changed. The bucks make every effort to pack the paint to prevent ingress and to prevent light shots inside. Help is sent by edge and even averages shooters who leave a few open shots on the perimeter. As long as the integrity of the center-back is not compromised, this is a compromise that Milwaukee is satisfied with.

Five different Raptors finished Game 4 with at least 15 points – including Kawhi Leonard (top) with 19 – the most in a postseason game in the franchise history. Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE over Getty Images

Accordingly, Raptors Center Marc Gasol shot the ball six times in Game 4 (Conversion of Three) from the background, and Powell attempted 13 3-pointer. Overall, the Raptors have tested 40 undisputed shots in the last two games, according to Second Spectrum Tracking, and implemented them with an effective field goal percentage of 61.3. During the first two games in Milwaukee they also found 40 unchallenged shots – but they hit them with an effective field target of only 47.5 percent.

"With Kawhi getting the ball, he attracts so much attention," Powell said. We're just trying to play through him a bit, through Marc. I think Marc did some phenomenal work to clear the defense when he got the ball up, I think we're just playing for each other. Everyone talks about what we see and how we get a better look each time and try to get a shot. We remain confident in each other. "

Gasol led the team to Assists Tuesday night, an important indicator that the Raptors have regained their identity as a high-IQ outfit that can creatively fire shots in several places on the floor Champion, who led Leonard down the lane with a small drop-pass for a simple bucket after Khris Middleton made the pass on the perimeter, and about a minute later, Gasoline and Leonard again came up with an intoxicating backdoor sequence as Middelton reappeared

When the Raptors did not fare as often as they did in recent weeks against Philadelphia and Milwaukee, one can easily forget the collective intelligence of the outfit, but Leonard, Gasol and Lowry led in Game 4 Lowry led the team with 25 points, including a 10-for-10 evening on the free throw line, a product of heavy man ufaktur, the broken possession turned into meaningful points by simply pulling the contact against a destabilized defense.

Both VanVleet and Serge Ibaka have made long stretches of postseason, but each made good progress in his role in Game 4. VanVleet scored a perfect 3-for-3 of Long range to score 13 points and six assists in 25 minutes. In the meantime, Sister Ibaka, his great substitute, instructed to use his athleticism as a blunt item. Ibaka helped Toronto achieve something rarely seen in the playoffs: control over the glass. In three quarters, the Raptors collected 31 percent of their mistakes, a large number that helped them control possession and wear down Milwaukee.

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For the bucks, sticking through the hands of the Raptors was a strong reminder that good opponents have the ability to solve problems. While the Bucks defense plans are certainly well marked, they must be executed with greater precision and distinctiveness. Not every help is the same – it has to be fast and selective from time to time.

As dynamic as the bucks are offensive, they can not afford to waste their possessions on the road with bad decisions against a strong defense team. Whether it's Middleton fouling 75 feet in front of the basket in less than three seconds before halftime in a difficult situation, or Giannis Antetokounmpo launching jumpers 21 feet away with pure impulse Half a dozen belongings No, not on a night when Brogdon could not find his shot when Eric Bledsoe was again an offensive cipher.

But the dollars are determined. They believe in their plans, their way of preparing and the philosophy that guides their systems. After the game, Antetokounmpo rejected the idea that Bucks' mistakes in games 3 and 4 required adjustments.

"We'll just do the same," Antetokounmpo said. "We want the other guys to fire, we still have to defend Kawhi defensively and try to limit his shots, but at the end of the day, when the boys get off the bench and knock out the shots, we'll have to live with them, we do our job. "

The Raptors returned to the series about reliance on probabilities and staff. Milwaukee will be just as firm in his beliefs. This is the NBA's deep postseason, when elite teams know and like who they are and are willing to live and die on those identities.

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