Kawhi Leonard finished with 27 points and a career high 17 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in their history with a 100-94 win over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
The Raptors won the series in six games as Saturday’s contest at Scotiabank Arena was a mirror image of game five, featuring a strong start by Milwaukee before Toronto came back in the fourth quarter to close it out with several clutch plays down the stretch.
The Raptors reached their first finals in their 24-year history where they will face the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Game one of the best-of-seven final is Thursday in Toronto.
“I just took it one possession at a time, Leonard said after game 4.
“We kept fighting all game. The calls were not going our way, but we kept striving and striving.
Leonard won the head to head battle against Giannis Antetokounmpo, even dunking over the mighty “Greek Freak” with six minutes left in the fourth to give Toronto a 87-79 lead.
Leonard also hit another dynamic three-pointer from his favourite corner spot on the floor with three minutes left to make it 95-90.
He shot nine of 22 from the field and had seven assists for the Raptors, who roared back to win four straight games after falling into an 0-2 hole to begin the series.
Pascal Siakam tallied 18 points, Kyle Lowry finished with 17 and Fred VanVleet came off the bench to score 14 points in the win.
Toronto was down by 15 points at one stage in the third quarter before Leonard’s supporting cast sparked the comeback to start the fourth.
“We thrive at it. We enjoy the moment, Leonard continued.
“My teammates have my back. I was on the bench to start the fourth quarter and they came back. It was a collective effort.
Antetokounmpo tallied a double double with 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who lost in the NBA playoff semi-finals after finishing with the best record in the regular season.