Thomas, Boucher, and Powell Lead Raptors Past the Giannis-Less Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo underwent oral surgery, while the Toronto Raptors opted to rest Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and Serge Ibaka in quite possibly the most meaningless game in the bubble thus far.
Both the Milwaukee Bucks and Raptors have locked up the top two seeds and even know their first round opponents.
Monday evening was nothing more than a rest day, allowing both coaches to unload the bench and give role players more time to get their feet under them and work off some of the hiatus-induced rust. While the Bucks still opted to give the majority of their rotation piece plenty of minutes, the Raptors appeared fully ready to punt this game away..
But in true Raptors fashion, no game against the defending champions is a walk in the park.
Led by Chris Boucher’s 25 points and 11 rebounds, Matt Thomas’ career-high 22-point outburst, and a second straight solid game from Norman Powell, who finished the night with 21 points, the Raptors took out the number-one seeded Bucks by a score of 114-106.
“We knew some guys was going to be out, so obviously, there was an opportunity,” Boucher said following the win. “All year, that’s what I’ve been doing. Every time I get a chance to play 20, 25 minutes — everybody on this team is doing the same thing. Just being ready and when the opportunity is there — to play hard and show what you’re capable of doing.”
Head coach Nick Nurse was pleased to see the Raptors second unit step up in lieu of key rotation piece sitting out on the second night of a back-to-back.
“The other guys want to play more than they’re playing, and it’s hard to find them room sometimes,” Nurse said. “It’s just a numbers game. I believe in both of them.”
The Raptors now improve to 5-1 in bubble, and with the win ensure that they will finish the regular season with a better winning percentage than that of last year’s Kawhi Leonard-led team. Next up on the calendar are the Philadelphia 76ers, who will be without Ben Simmons and quite possibly will be missing Joel Embiid who recently injured his ankle.
Stay healthy, stay ready for the postseason!