To kick off the final week of NBA seeding games for both franchises, the Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 114-106 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The Bucks have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Raptors are locked in to the No. 2 seed. As a result, Monday's encounter carried little in terms of tangible playoff ramifications.
A number of key players were absent. The Raptors used the opportunity to rest Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka, while Giannis Antetokounmpo was out due to lingering effects from oral surgery.
Toronto was in control for much of the game until Milwaukee made a late charge.
An Eric Bledsoe layup made it a six-point game with 54 seconds left, and Stanley Johnson missed a pair of free throws. Johnson collected his own rebound after it was knocked out of the paint. Chris Boucher eventually cleaned up a miss by Johnson to give the Raptors an eight-point lead and end any comeback attempt.
Norman Powell, SG, Raptors: 7-13 FG, 21 points, eight rebounds, one assist, two steals, three blocks
Pascal Siakam, PF, Raptors: 5-16 FG, 14 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals
Matt Thomas, SG, Raptors: 9-17 FG, 22 points, four rebounds, one assist
Chris Boucher, PF, Raptors: 9-15 FG, 25 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, two steals, two blocks
Khris Middleton, SF, Bucks: 6-12 FG, 17 points, four rebounds, three assists
Kyle Korver, SG, Bucks: 5-6 FG, 19 points, four rebounds, two assists, one steal
Supporting Cast Steps Up for Short-Handed Raptors
Not only were the Raptors without the services of three regular contributors, but Pascal Siakam also struggled to find his shot because of the added attention the Bucks could pay him on defense.
Neither proved to be much of a problem for Toronto thanks in large part to Norman Powell and a few unsung heroes.
Matt Thomas stole the show after finishing with a season high in points. The rookie guard had the right touch in the first half as he poured in 15 points.
Thomas may not be able to replicate that in the postseason, but his shooting could be a valuable asset for Toronto in the next stage.
Boucher was the third of the Raptors' three-pronged attack. Boucher was effective from beyond the arc, but none of his points came with more emphasis than this thunderous dunk in the fourth quarter.
The Raptors obviously no longer have Kawhi Leonard, the impact of which will likely be magnified in the playoffs. Nobody should overlook Toronto's supporting cast, though, and those reserves will be carrying a big chip on their shoulders to silence the doubters who question the team's ceiling with no Leonard on whom to lean.
Bucks Continue Going Backward Before Playoffs
Milwaukee was clearly much worse without Antetokounmpo on the floor. Still, it's somewhat concerning the Bucks have now dropped eight of their last 11 games dating back to before the NBA suspended the season.
In their last two outings, they gave up 73 first-half points to the injury-ravaged Brooklyn Nets and the same total to the Miami Heat, who didn't have Jimmy Butler. The trend continued for the most part Monday as Toronto dropped 67 points through the first two quarters.
Milwaukee came out flat and lacked Antetokounmpo to help turn the tide like the team did against Miami. Instead, the Bucks simply looked like a squad running in first gear.
Kyle Korver was one of the few bright spots as he made his first five three-point attempts.
Rob Anderson @_robanderson
Kyle Korver is now 5-for-5 from 3-point range and has 19 points in 16 minutes, plus a nice cut under his eye after taking a charge and being elbowed. KK hasn't shot 100% from 3FG range with 5+ 3FG attempts since March 11, 2013, when he was 6-6 for Atlanta at the Lakers. #ProJays
At this point, the Bucks appear to be mentally ready for the postseason to arrive. Perhaps they'll be able to refocus when the games matter again, but nothing can really be taken for granted given the unique circumstances of the present moment.
The Bucks will return to the court Tuesday as they play the Washington Wizards at 9 p.m. ET. The Raptors face off with the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.