Don't be surprised if the Toronto Raptors roll out a new starting five for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
After the Milwaukee Bucks ran them off the court in Game 2, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse hinted at making some lineup changes at his media availability on Saturday.
"I think there could be more than one lineup change coming at us," he said.
Nurse did, however, go on to say that it's "not easy" to make big changes because of the trust he has in his starters to bounce back.
"I think your question here is this: Are you going to dance with the one you bring to the ball?" Nurse continued, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic. "It's not easy. You think certain series aren't for certain guys, et cetera, but I also think that we've had bad biorhythms a couple times, maybe three or four times in the playoffs, and then the next game our biorhythms were back in tact.
"So I kind of trust these guys, know who they are, believe in them and know they're better than they played last night and have shown that in bounce-back situations usually."
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It's only been two games, but the starting five of Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol have struggled so far in the Eastern Conference Finals. According to NBA.com, they've been scoring at a rate of 96.9 points per 100 possessions, which is way down from the 119.5 they averaged in the regular season.
The five of them have actually been fine defensively, limiting the Bucks to 105.1 points per 100 possessions, but it hasn't been nearly enough for them to overcome their offensive woes.
It's hard to believe Nurse would move one of Lowry, Leonard or Siakam to the bench, leaving Green and Gasol as the only likely starters to be replaced.
Serge Ibaka is a more natural fit than Gasol at centre against these Bucks. Not only is he a more willing shooter - Ibaka is averaging 13.2 field goal attempts per 36 minutes in these playoffs compared to 8.6 for Gasol - he's a more versatile defender.
According to NBA.com, Siakam is the only Raptor who has defended Giannis Antetokounmpo more than Ibaka through two games in this series. Ibaka has done a decent job, limiting the MVP candidate to 15 points on 3-for-9 shooting from the field on 35 possessions.
What's hurt Ibaka is allowing Antetokounmpo to get to the free throw line, where eight of his points have come from in that matchup.
The Raptors might also have a better chance of limiting Milwaukee's 3-point attempts with Ibaka on the floor, as his athleticism makes him better suited than Gasol to help and recover. Gasol is at his best as a post defender, but Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are the only players on the Bucks who look to score with their back to the basket more than once a game.
As for Green, Norman Powell would probably be the only option to start over him. Powell has been up and down in these playoffs, but he had a strong performance in Game 2 with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field.
Seeing as the Raptors haven't gotten much offensively out of Green - he's combined to score 14 points in Games 1 and 2 - the Raptors might benefit from Powell's ability to mix it up on offence.
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