TSN Basketball Analyst Jack Armstrong returns with his five quick thoughts on Game 5, the Raptors' bench, Khris Middleton's struggles and more.
1. RAPTORS BENCH: Toronto’s bench of Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka have been excellent the past two games by outscoring the Bucks' primary reserves by 49 points (83-34). That’s a significant turnaround for a group that has been inconsistent during the playoffs. Their production takes this team from very good to elite.
2. KYLE LOWRY (Raptors): Has been bringing it big time in this series despite the pain in his left hand. He’s averaging close to 20 points, six rebounds and five assists while shooting an impressive 49 per cent from the field and 44 from deep. He has risen to the challenge every step of the way.
3. RAPTORS BALL PROTECTION: One of the major facets to beating the Bucks is that you can’t beat yourselves. It’s so important to keep them out of transition where they are explosive. In the past two games, they’ve only turned the ball over 17 times. In the huge Game 5 win, they didn’t have a single fourth quarter turnover. That’s playing with outstanding discipline.
4. KHRIS MIDDLETON (Bucks): With the exception of Game 4 where he scored 30 points, he has been held in check, only combining for an average of 9.5 points per game in the other four games. The fact that he’s Milwaukee’s second leading scorer and he’s struggling is not a good development for the Bucks.
5. DISTANCE SHOOTING: The Bucks rely heavily on paint scores and three-balls and they usually dominate the category of winning the three-point battle. Not the case in this series. The Raptors have outscored the Bucks by 45 points behind the arc (74 made threes vs. 59 made threes) while being more accurate (.365 vs. .303) on a percentage basis. Toronto has done a masterful job of making Milwaukee pay dearly for their aggressive helping scheme. The Raptors' defensive scheme has consistently challenged shooters and chased them off the line while keeping their opponent in the slower paced five-on-five halfcourt game. A sound accomplishment.