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For the Raptors, Game 3 came down to their will to survive

Lineup rotations can be tweaked and defensive coverages can be refined, but no matter how much preparation has been performed, the crucial minutes of a playoff game are nothing more than a desperate exercise in survival. Every possession is a fire drill, and few of them resemble the inspired plays drawn up on crisp whiteboards by basketball brainiacs when all is at peace.

For the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night, fighting for their postseason lives, unforeseen circumstances were the norm. Kawhi Leonard landed awkwardly in the first quarter with questions swirling throughout the game about his condition.

Their starting point guard, Kyle Lowry, fouled out of the game with more than six minutes remaining in regulation. Their most productive offensive guard in Game 3 was reserve Norman Powell — and he fouled out five minutes later. That left the Raptors with a backcourt of Danny Green and Fred VanVleet, who had shot a collective 2-for-20 on the night. With seven seconds remaining in regulation, Pascal Siakam — a 78.5 percent shooter at the line this season — had an opportunity to secure the win with a pair of free throws but missed both.nfl authentic jerseys cheap

Despite the persistent foul trouble, and squandering leads of four points with about 70 seconds remaining in both the fourth quarter and the first overtime, the Raptors leaned on Leonard and a feisty defense to outlast the Milwaukee Bucks 118-112 in double overtime of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.4

The greater the stakes on a given possession, the less artful the play from both teams. With Lowry on the bench, the Raptors were without their game manager for the final 16 minutes of action. “It was f—ing terrible to watch,” Lowry said of having to watch the game unfold as a spectator.

Meanwhile, Bucks starting point guard Eric Bledsoe struggled during his minutes on the court, as did de facto point guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, who fouled out in the opening minutes of the second overtime. Khris Middleton, who suffered a series of miscues with the game in the balance, also had a forgettable night.

Leonard has been the one constant for a Toronto team whose individual performers have been variable for the better part of three weeks. The Raptors escaped the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to Leonard’s theatrics a week ago with a 4-3 series win, but the historic shot — the squat, the four bounces and all the rest of it — occurred during a cold-shooting snap that has confounded the Raptors for days.cheap nike nfl jerseys china

The two losses in Milwaukee to begin the conference finals exacerbated a tension that’s familiar in a game in which probabilities rule — but not always justly. Coming into Game 3, the Raptors had compiled just a 52.1 effective field goal percentage on uncontested shots since the start of the Philadelphia series after ranking second in the NBA (a 68.1 percent eFG) in uncontested attempts during the regular season.