In a series starring the likes of Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, one can imagine that the series would be decided by them. However, if that were the case, the Bucks would be in for another first round exit. The Raptors match up very well with the Bucks. Big men like Lucas Nogueira and Serge Ibaka will likely be able to contain players like Greg Monroe and John Henson. Raptors backcourt of Lowry and Derozan fair pretty well against the Bucks backcourt of Malcolm Brogdon and Antetokounmpo.
So, the real key to getting out of the first round for the first time since the 2000-2001 season will be bench success. According to hoopsstats.com, the Bucks have the #2 overall best bench unit in the NBA. That mark is behind only the San Antonio Spurs. It has been able to see some solid performances each game from a bench player. It’s typically someone new every night.
Toronto enters the series sporting the 13th best bench in the NBA. Norman Powell, Cory Joseph, Lucas Noguiera, and PJ Tucker all come off the bench for this team. That sounds like a lot of depth, but the numbers just aren’t there to show it. Toronto’s bench has averaged 32 points, six assists, and 15 rebounds per game this season. Milwaukee’s second unit has them beat in every category, averaging 39 points, nine assists, and 17 rebounds per game.
When Raptors coach Dwayne Casey goes to his bench this series, the Bucks need to jump on them early and often. This will give the starting group room to work with, putting everyone in a much more comfortable position.
Before the season started, people around the league questioned the Bucks offseason decisions. It traded Michael Carter-Williams straight up for Tony Snell, receiving a lot of criticism. In the end, the Bucks won this trade in a big way. He is averaging nine points and three rebounds per game while shooting 41 percent from deep, a career-best. People were also uncertain about the Michael Beasley addition. He’s had legal troubles in the past and chucks up some questionable shots. Beasley will end the regular season as the Bucks most efficient shooter at 54 percent. He is also the Bucks most efficient 3-point shooter at 45 percent which is also a career-high.
The Jason Terry signing was even frowned upon by many due to his age, but he has been instrumental off the Bucks bench. His consistency is vital as he has been his normal self, shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. The most important thing about him is how good of a teammate he is. The young guys look to him as a role model and Terry always brings a healthy dose energy to the court.
If there were any question marks surrounding the Bucks bench entering the season, they’ve been answered. A top-tier bench in the NBA, the team will need to see more of the same in order to have success this postseason. Regardless of outcome, the series should be an entertaining one, with both teams progressing as the playoffs approach. Milwaukee has only beaten Toronto once in the past two years, but the Bucks are looking to turn a new leaf.