The Toronto Raptors ended the Milwaukee Bucks season on Thursday, April 27th. The Bucks came in prepared in game one and destroyed the Raptors in game three. However, in game six the Raptors built up a 25-point lead only to blow it and allow the Bucks back in the game. Cory Joseph hit a big time three and DeMar DeRozan had a monster slam in the 4th to put the Bucks on their heels, but none of that matters now. It just matters that the Raptors won.
Norman Powell starting the last three games has fueled the Raptors to three straight wins. It seems crazy that Powell didn’t play in game one or two and only garbage time in game three. He might not have put up gaudy box score stats in this one, but he did his job.
How does a player out of the rotation crack the starting lineup?
There is only one answer to this question and it’s Dwane Casey. Heading into the playoffs I would doubt people expected Norman Powell to start, but I’m sure most people expected him to be part of the rotation. Terrence Ross has been gone for how long? DeMarre Carroll has had another disappointing season. Norman hasn’t had the best season himself, but in my opinion, much of that is due to the fact he hasn’t had a defined role. How many players can be successful playing single digits one game and 30+ minutes the next?
Norman Powell drafted 46th FOH
Powell was picked 46th in the 2015 NBA draft. People seem to think Powell was traded in addition with a first-round pick for Greivis Vasquez and they aren’t wrong. However, if the Bucks were keeping the pick for themselves what were the odds Norman was their guy? We don’t have the answer, but I would gather the odds would have been low. Powell has played hard since his first summer league game and hasn’t stopped. It’s clear he puts in the work and genuinely seems like a good guy.
Norman showed significant powers post all-star break last season. In those 25 games, he averaged 9.6 PPG (shooting 46.6% from the field & 45.5% from three), 3.4 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG, and 1 TPG in just 23 MPG. Powell only shot 32.4% from three in the regular season this year. Some people are theorizing, that when Norman came off the bench defenses were able to focus him and diminish his impact, but when he starts as the 4th or 5th option the opposing team is forced to focus DeMar DeRozan or Kyle Lowry which allows him to better operate. They might be right. As a starter, this season Powell shot 39.7% from three and 49.8% from the field in 18 games. Being able to shoot like that as a wing in the NBA is super valuable especially with a two-way player like Powell that doesn’t get destroyed on the other end. Norman Powell is going to be a very good player in the NBA for a long time even if he never morphs into a superstar.
Don't disrespect DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan was thrown under the bus by several people in the media after having zero field goals in game three. In the three games following, he’s scored 30+ points in two of the three and shot at least 50% from the field in each of the three games. No player in the NBA, not even LeBron James is going to play brilliantly through every single game. DeRozan is having a career year and it’s carried over into the playoffs. He truly is one of the elite offensive players in the NBA.
The disrespect continues
Why do non-Raptor basketball fans chant USA when their team plays the Raptors? It's not the first time this has happened in the playoffs, but hopefully, it will be the last. It’s extremely disrespectful and doesn’t make a lot of sense considering the majority of the Raptors players are American. And hey, Bucks fans your best player isn’t American. Americans have long thought they live in the greatest country in the world. After certain current events this year I would think there would be many Americans ashamed of their country.? Furthermore, the NBA has become a global game with plenty of international fans and players. This is something I embrace and would think others would too.
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance
The Raptors now have the challenge of taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors took two games off the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. So maybe this is the Raptors second chance? But who is to say they will get a third chance to take out LeBron James? The Raptors have four key free agents in Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, PJ Tucker, and Patrick Patterson. There is no guarantee any or all will be back. And if they aren’t all back there’s a good chance the Raptors won’t be as good as they have been this season. Beating LeBron James won’t be easy, but the Cavs have struggled defensively this season. This could be the Raptors best shot to beat them. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.