2. Strong play off the bench
The second biggest storyline coming out of Thursday night’s Game 5 was the strong play of Fred VanVleet and the rest of the Toronto Raptors’ bench. FVV had seven made field goals on the night, all from deep, the majority of which came in the second half.
FVV got into rhythm and it translated to the best postseason performance of his career with 21 points. In the first three games of the series, he was averaging 3.3 points per game on 20 percent shooting. In the last two games, he’s averaged 17 points on 63.2 percent shooting from the floor. Furthermore, he had a team-best +28 in Game 5, with the next-closest Raptor being Serge Ibaka at +9.
What changed for VanVleet? Some may say it was because of Fred Jr., his newborn child earlier this week. FVV jokingly said otherwise:
What makes the Raptors unique and difficult to play against is their hustle. Box scores don’t tell the whole story. Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka, at first glance, would seem like they had off nights, combining for 14 points and 10 rebounds on 3-of-11 shooting from the field.
In actuality, it was their defensive intensity and ability to box out the opposition on the defensive glass that helped impact the game.
Ibaka’s 20 minutes guarding Giannis and running the floor with an insane amount of energy (for him), were a welcomed addition. He even made all four of his free throws. Powell made a 3, and possibly could’ve had more with the open corner looks from deep the Bucks’ defense was allowing.
Overall, Toronto’s bench outscored the Bucks’ bench 35-15. This was the second straight game the Raptors have done so.