Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers

NBA Playoffs 2019: Inside the bench struggles for the Toronto Raptors

After averaging 36.2 points per game during the regular season, the Raptors' bench is averaging 10.0 points per game so far this series.
After averaging 36.2 points per game during the regular season, the Raptors' bench is averaging 10.0 points per game so far this series. (Getty Images)

One of the biggest reasons the Toronto Raptors trail 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers is the play of the two benches.

While the 76ers were supposed to be the top heavy team that would only go as far as their star-studded starting lineup would take them, it's been the Raptors that have been unable to get anything from the reserves.

So far this series, the Raptors bench is averaging just 10 points per game, far below their regular season average of 36.2. Though the bench hasn't been a strength as it has in recent years, that 36.2 ranked in the middle of the pack league-wide. It might not be a strength, but it wasn't supposed to be a weakness either.

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Toronto's bench is shooting just 24% so far this series. How bad is that?

Over the last 20 years, there have been 300 different playoff series. That figure of 24% would rank dead last... the worst of any team in any series over that span.

Here's a closer look into each bench player's struggles though Game 3:

Serge Ibaka

  • Points: 13
  • Minutes: 49
  • FG: 6-20
  • 3-pt FG: 0-3
  • FT: 1-2

It's been a toug series so far for Ibaka who hasn't been able to contain Joel Embiid on one end and can't buy a bucket on the other.

He's been the highest volume shooter of any of Toronto's bench players and as such, might be the best candidate to step up in Game 4. He played very well in all three of his regular season matchups with the 76ers, averaging 18.0 PPG while shooting over 50% in each game.

MORE: Why Toronto's bigs couldn't stop Embiid in Game 3

Philly is certainly giving Ibaka clean looks. There has not been a defender within four feet on half of his 20 attempts while every one of his 3-point attempts has been deemed wide open with no defender within six feet.

Fred VanVleet

  • Points: 4
  • Minutes: 63
  • FG: 1-11
  • 3-pt FG: 0-7
  • FT: 2-5

With 11:46 left in the fourth quarter of Game 1, VanVleet came off a high screen and drained a pull-up jumper from the elbow. It was his first attempt of the series.

It was also his only make.

Since then, the backup point guard has missed all 10 of his shots and is 0-7 from beyond the 3-point line.

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Like Ibaka, VanVleet is getting good looks, but simply has not been able to take advantage. So far in this series, he is 0-5 on shots with no defender within six feet.

Norman Powell

  • Points: 9
  • Minutes: 44
  • FG: 3-10
  • 3-pt FG: 3-4
  • FT: 0-0

Those three green circles you see below? Those are the only made 3-pointers by any Raptors bench player in this series. Whereas Powell is 3-4 from deep, the rest of Toronto's bench has combined to shoot 0-13.

MORE: Anunoby "a long, long ways" from return

Unfortunately for Powell, the Raptors have really struggled overall during his time on the floor. He has a plus-minus of -36, the worst of any Raptors player so far in this series.

Jodie Meeks

  • Points: 4
  • Minutes: 11
  • FG: 2-5
  • 3-pt FG: 0-2
  • FT: 0-0

Four of his five attempts thus far in the series have come in garbage time. Though he's mostly played in spot duty, Meeks could be an option for more minutes if Nick Nurse opts to shake up his rotation. Meeks almost has to be an option by default given the injury to OG Anunoby who if healthy would see big minutes with the second unit.

Jeremy Lin

  • Points: 0
  • Minutes: 3
  • FG: 0-2
  • 3-pt FG: 0-0
  • FT: 0-0

Lin was inactive in Game 3 (back) after not playing at all in Game 2. Though he's mostly been out of the rotation this entire postseason, he could get a look moving forward given the struggles of VanVleet who is shooting just 1-11 so far against the 76ers.

Malcolm Miller

  • Points: 0
  • Minutes: 4
  • FG: 0-2
  • 3-pt FG: 0-1
  • FT: 0-0

Miller appeared in just 10 games during the regular season and has almost exclusively been an end-of-the-bench option.

Patrick McCaw and Eric Moreland have both played sparingly though neither has taken a shot thus far. McCaw, especially, is an intriguing option for a bench looking for answers and down one impact wing player in Anunoby.

Regardless, it's clear that if the Raptors are going to get back in the series, the bench will need to produce far more than it has so far.

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