Depth could make the difference when the well-rested Milwaukee Bucks host the opener of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors, who were extended to the last possible second before winning a dramatic seventh game Sunday.
The Bucks finished with the NBA’s best record and won the season series 3-1 against the Raptors, who had the second-best record.
Teams - Benches - Season
Both teams used their benches effectively during the regular season.
Milwaukee’s reserves remained significant as it breezed through its first two playoff rounds, but Toronto has had limited contributions from its backups.
Focus - Series - Marquee - Players - Milwaukee
The focus of the best-of-seven series will be on marquee players — Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard.
Then there are such significant players as the Bucks’ Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe and the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam.
Casts - Outcome
The remaining casts could determine the outcome, however.
By relying so heavily on a shortened rotation in a grueling series with the Philadelphia 76ers, won by Leonard’s buzzer-beating shot for the ages, the Raptors might become a victim of fatigue. The Bucks, meanwhile, not only have had a week off, but have confidence in their reserves.
Bench - Bit - Game - Game - Wednesday
“We don’t doubt our bench, not one bit coming into this game, coming into Game 1 Wednesday,” Bledsoe told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the Bucks’ practice on Monday.
Malcolm Brogdon, after missing eight weeks with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, returned to play 17 minutes in the finale of the five-game semifinal win over the Boston Celtics last Wednesday and that makes the Bucks even deeper.
NBAcom - Milwaukee - Bench - Percent - Team
According to NBA.com, Milwaukee’s bench has played 39.8 percent of the team’s playoff minutes, averaging 37.4 points on 48.1 percent shooting.
The Raptors’ reserves, however, have played less than 30 percent of playoff minutes — including 24.8 percent against Philadelphia — and have averaged 21.6 points per...
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The beatings will continue until moral improves.