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

3:10 AM ET

TORONTO — Nothing in the NBA playoffs goes off as planned.

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.

Find everything you need to know about the playoffs here.

Schedules, matchups and more
Experts’ picks for conference finals
Bucks should not be a surprise to anyone
The coach who unlocked Steph’s

Giannis: 'I never expected this series to be easy'

3:03 AM ET

Malika AndrewsESPN

TORONTO — These are the nights when Giannis Antetokounmpo frets.

Through the first three quarters of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Antetokounmpo scored just six points. He finished with 12 total. He missed two key free throws in the first overtime and fouled out less than a minute into the second overtime. He committed eight turnovers in all.

The Milwaukee Bucks lost to the Toronto Raptors 118-112 to drop there series lead to 2-1. Antetokounmpo doesn’t accept performances like that. He is as allergic to losing as Khris Middleton is to pine nuts.

“It is a culture we’ve built as a team,” Antetokounmpo told ESPN after the game. “We don’t like losing. We know we are two games away from the NBA Finals. We cannot jump steps. We have to do it a game at a time, a play

Kawhi shrugs off leg issue after win: 'I'm good'

2:06 AM ET

Tim BontempsESPN

TORONTO — So much of this season for Kawhi Leonard has been spent on the topic of load management.

Well, load management went out the window Sunday night.

With his Toronto Raptors‘ season on the line, Leonard played a career-high 52 minutes — almost all of them coming after he landed awkwardly on a layup in the first quarter. And he put up his latest stellar line, finishing with 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists to lead Toronto to a 118-112 victory in double overtime against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The win got the Raptors back into the series, as they now trail 2-1 in this best-of-seven affair — thanks mostly to Leonard’s latest heroics, which came exactly a week after he kept Toronto’s season alive here with his miraculous buzzer-beater to close

Leonard stars in Raptors' Game 3 adjustments

TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard has grown into one of the best offensive players in the world, a machine that ranks second in this postseason in scoring (32.0 points per game), with an ultra-efficient true shooting percentage of 65.5 percent (third-best among players with at least 50 postseason field goal attempts).

But what makes Leonard truly special is how good he can be on both ends of the floor … in the playoffs … having played more than 50 minutes … while hobbled by a leg injury … and with his team’s season on the line.

The Toronto Raptors are still alive in the Eastern Conference finals, having escaped with a 118-112, double-overtime victory in Game 3 on Sunday. They’re still alive because Marc Gasol finally made the shots the Milwaukee Bucks have been daring him to shoot all along, because Pascal Siakam had his best game of the series, and because Fred VanVleet and Danny Green

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Antetokounmpo learning how to deal with playoff disappointment

TORONTO – Whenever LeBron James struggled through the sort of playoff performance Giannis Antetokounmpo had Sunday, he seemed to want to put it behind him as swiftly as he could.

His routine – assuming it wasn’t The Finals, where he got summoned to the podium, win or lose – typically went like this: the door to the Cleveland or Miami dressing room would swing open and there James would be, ready to face the questions, antsy to move on ASAP. Once he ‘fessed up to the shots he’d missed or the plays he’d botched, that was it.

Oh, you knew he’d be looking plenty at video of that game in the hours before he played again, as a way to find and fix the flaws. But for public consumption at least, he shed it fast, like an ill-fitting suit.

Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks’ young star, is still learning this face-of-the-franchise

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Lillard, Blazers clinging to pride at playoffs' edge

PORTLAND, Ore. — He’s top-10 in the NBA in talent, perhaps top-five in likability and there’s no question where Damian Lillard ranks in the only place he has ever called home in the NBA.

Taken as a bundle, the Trail Blazers guard presents an impressive case for himself as a player worthy of your respect, something he craves and certainly deserves to a large degree.

Lillard had his Playoff Moment when he sank the buzzer-and-series-winning shot from nearly half-court to erase Oklahoma City and his nemesis, Russell Westbrook, from the first round. It was the kind of play that separates the truly great players from the very good. It was as if the casual basketball fan discovered Lillard overnight, or rather, the next morning on social media and TV highlight replays, since that game ended well past bedtime for much of the country.

But as Kenny Smith, the former player and popular

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Cavaliers agree to terms with Bickerstaff to become associate head coach

Cleveland, OH – The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to terms with J.B. Bickerstaff to become the team’s associate head coach, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.  

“We couldn’t be happier or feel more fortunate that J.B. is joining us as associate head coach. Having someone with J.B.’s level of experience join Coach Beilein, in partnership and leadership, to guide our team is something we are confident is an excellent addition for us,” said Altman. “J.B. has spent his entire life in and around the game and his knowledge of the league and basketball will bring a full spectrum of value to the team. His approach to coaching and everything on the court and off is exactly the kind of perspective, commitment and integrity we want for the culture and growth we will drive here.”

“This was a very easy decision to add J.B. as our

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Reliable injury info hard to come by

7:14 AM ET

Last month, the NBA sent a memo to all its team owners detailing a series of new rules about owning sports betting companies and related businesses.

In a nod toward gambling, referee transparency rules have been gradually implemented over the past decade, including announcing officiating crews in advance of games and the publishing of the Last Two Minute Reports.

However, even as the NBA gets deeper into business with sportsbooks, the league has yet to take meaningful action when it comes to injury reporting.

Find everything you need to know about the playoffs here.

Schedules, matchups and more
Experts’ picks for conference finals
Bucks should not be a surprise to anyone
The coach who unlocked Steph’s greatness
What’s next for eliminated teams?

It became an issue again over the weekend when a rib injury to Portland Trail Blazers star

D'Antoni has sights on 3 more years minimum

9:51 PM ET

Adrian WojnarowskiESPN

The Houston Rockets and coach Mike D’Antoni have had preliminary discussions on the framework of a contract extension that would keep the two-time NBA Coach of the Year from entering the final year of his deal.

“I’ve let [general manager] Daryl [Morey] and [team owner] Tilman [Fertitta] know that I’m energized to keep coaching — and believe that I can continue to do this at a high level for at least another three years,” D’Antoni, 68, told ESPN on Sunday night.

“I want to be a part of a championship here.”

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It is unclear how significant of a commitment the Rockets are willing to make to D’Antoni, who told ESPN he prefers to avoid entering the final year of his original four-year contract in 2019-20 without an extension.

Fertitta called the Rockets’ loss in the

Draymond: Warriors want sweep to get more rest

6:05 PM ET

PORTLAND, Ore. — As the Golden State Warriors attempt to become the first team since the 1960s Boston Celtics to go to the NBA Finals for the fifth straight season, Warriors forward Draymond Green said the group is motivated to finish off the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals and take advantage of the nine days off before the Finals begin May 30.

“I think it’s very motivating for us to try to sweep this series and have that time off,” Green said on Sunday. “Obviously we’re a little banged up, so nine days off would be great for us. Allow Andre [Iguodala] time to heal, Shaun [Livingston]’s old — but also allow the possibility of Kevin [Durant] and DeMarcus [Cousins] to get healthy and come back as well. So I think it’s very important for us to come out tomorrow