Bucks on brink of playoff elimination Saturday

Keith Jenkins
Associated Press
Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard, left, scored 35 points to beat the Bucks 105-99 in Game 5.

Milwaukee — Mired in their worst skid of the season at the worst possible time, the Milwaukee Bucks need an answer in the Eastern Conference finals.

A lineup change didn’t provide one, so the Bucks have to come up with something else in Toronto.

The Bucks returned to the starting five they used most of the season in Game 5, the lineup that helped them to the NBA’s best record. But they were left with the same result as the third and fourth games and now face elimination when the series resumes tonight.

Guard Malcolm Brogdon finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and six assists Thursday in his first start since returning from a foot injury in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Celtics.

But his first career postseason double-double wasn’t enough as Milwaukee lost, 105-99, to the Raptors.

The top-seeded Bucks need a win in Toronto after falling there twice already in the series.

“You know, we’ve been a resilient group all year,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We just need to think about going and winning one game, go to Toronto and get that.”

Budenholzer said before Game 5 that he and his staff were thinking of making a change to the starting lineup after going with the same five in each of the first four games of the series.

Along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, that group included Nikola Mirotic, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe.

After winning the first two games in the series, the Bucks then lost consecutive games for only the second time all season.

Milwaukee’s coaching staff elected to switch things up and start Brodgon instead of Mirotic.

“I think Malcolm was very good overall, and it’s a group that started 64 out of 65 games for us,” Budenholzer said.

Stotts signs extension

The Trail Blazers have formally announced that coach Terry Stotts signed a contract extension through the 2021-22 season.

The extension was first revealed the day after Portland was eliminated from the postseason by the Warriors. Stotts, Portland’s coach since 2012, led the team to its first appearance in the Western Conference finals in 19 years.