For the first time this series, the Toronto Raptors are in control.
The No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference took a 3-2 lead in the first-round playoff matchup with a 118-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday.
Toronto trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the series, but back-to-back wins give the squad a chance at clinching in Game 6 on Thursday.
Norman Powell, who was in and out of the lineup this season, was the surprise star in his second straight start. The second-year player had arguably the best game of his career with a team-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three-point range.
Many were quick to react to the shocking performance:
Ryan Wolstat @WolstatSun
Norman Powell might be the greatest secret weapon in the history of secret weapons.2017-4-24 23:36:09
Doug Smith: Raptors @SmithRaps
Norm Powell has 21 points, is chirping the Bucks bench after every bucket and has again made Khris Middleton disappear. World peace is next2017-4-25 00:57:11
Chris Walder @WalderSports
Raptors traded Greivis Vasquez to the Bucks for the No. 46 pick (Norman Powell) and a future first-round pick (used to land Ibaka). HAHAHA!2017-4-25 00:58:17
This dunk in the fourth quarter effectively sealed the win for the Raptors:
Norman 👏Powell👏Juice👏 https://t.co/KkU0zIWnNE2017-4-25 01:31:36
Kyle Lowry (16 points and 10 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (18 points) had strong performances as well, while Serge Ibaka added 19, but the team showed it can succeed without huge games from its All-Stars.
The Bucks relied too much on their star as Giannis Antetokounmpo did most of the damage, filling up the box score with 30 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
At times, the game seemed too easy for him:
NBA TV @NBATV
Left-handed 🔨 from @Giannis_An34 #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/JDTJ7DyQXi2017-4-25 00:44:45
Unfortunately, he ended minus-24 on the court while receiving little help from teammates.
Conversely, the Raptors saw much more balance in their lineup with six different players in double figures. Shooting 57.7 percent from the field and 24-of-26 from the free-throw line also helped.
Toronto effectively controlled the game from start to finish, using a 17-0 run in the first quarter and some big dunks to build an early lead:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
SERGE 🔨 https://t.co/c8At3pRx3d2017-4-24 23:25:33
Raptors dunking all over @NBATV! #NBAPlayoffs https://t.co/0YJgURaUal2017-4-24 23:36:22
Even as the Bucks shot 57.1 percent from the field, they still trailed 57-48 at halftime.
Antetokounmpo was the biggest reason the game even remained competitive, as ESPN Stats & Info showed:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the paint in the 2nd quarter for the Bucks https://t.co/RMJ38m63sB2017-4-25 00:23:24
The Raptors fed off the home crowd in the third quarter to build a 17-point lead before closing things out in the fourth quarter.
Malcolm Brogdon did his best to keep the visitors alive with eight of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 25-point loss.
The Bucks now have their backs against the wall heading into Game 6 in Milwaukee. The squad is one game away from elimination and now has to win two straight, one at home and one on the road, to advance to the second round for the first time since 2001.
Game 6 from the BMO Harris Bradley Center is set for Thursday, with the Cleveland Cavaliers awaiting the series winner.