On Friday, Sportsnet aired Game 3 of last season's Eastern Conference Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks.
It was a wild game. Down 2-0 against the Bucks, the Raptors needed a win at home to avoid going down into a 3-0 hole that no NBA team has ever crawled out of. It took a herculean effort out of Kawhi Leonard, who led the way with a game-high 36 points, but he got plenty of help in the 118-112 double overtime win.
Pascal Siakam chipped in with 25 points and 11 rebounds, Marc Gasol flirted with a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and Norman Powell came up big off the bench with 19 points.
To celebrate the series-changing win, Raptors Player Development Coordinator John Bennett took over the team's Twitter account during the game to answer questions from fans.
Game 3. East Finals. Tonight.- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 3, 2020
Bonus: Coordinator of Player Development John Bennett will we watching with you live and he'll be answering any questions you have. Join us at 8pm and tweet JB your Qs using #AskCoachJB.@LGCanada | #NBATogether pic.twitter.com/6pEzRA6vv7
Here's what he had to say.
On the magnitude of the game
Coming into Game 3, we knew there were things that are non-negotiable for us. We needed to play with more fierce and physicality to carry out our offensive principles. Defensively, stopping or slowing them down in transition is so important. #AskCoachJB- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
Bennett talked about slowing the Bucks down in transition again later in the broadcast.
"Defensively stopping them in transition, offensively you have to play through there physicality, then being confident enough to go and knock down 3's." #AskCoachJB https://t.co/jkQ2djnDw8- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
"Throughout the first half, our coaching staff is pulling clips we might want to show the team at halftime. It's usually a mix of both good and bad examples of plays on offence and defence. Biggest thing being the emphasis on transition." #AskCoachJB- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
It's no wonder why. According to NBA.com, the Bucks averaged 27.4 points per game in transition last season, tying them with the Sacramento Kings for the most in the league. This season, they're scoring 26.0 points per game on those plays, putting them behind only the Raptors for the most in the league.
It's not just Giannis Antetokounmpo who lives in transition. While he leads the league this season with 8.3 points per game in transition, Eric Bledsoe (5.0) and Khris Middleton (4.0) are both among the league leaders.
On ball movement
"Our movements and decision making resulted in 11 assists through the 1st quarter with just 17 total in game 1 and 19 total in game 2." #AskCoachJB- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
Gasol helped set the tone in that regard, as he was responsible for four of the team's 11 assists in the first quarter. That was almost as many assists as he had in Game 1 and Game 2 combined (six).
The Raptors ended up assisting 28 of the 40 field goals they made in Game 3.
On Milwaukee's shooters
"Huge emphasis was to contest every shot, we did that with a greater sense of urgency in this game than games 1 & 2." #AskCoachJB https://t.co/eOxwQRO6n8- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
The Raptors did a good job on Brook Lopez in particular as the series progressed. After scoring 29 points in Game 1, Lopez averaged 12.8 points on 28.6 percent shooting from 3-point range the rest of the way.
As for Nikola Mirotic and Ersan Ilyasova, they were non-factors in Toronto's wins, to the point where Mirotic didn't log a single minute in Game 6.
On the team's depth
"Kyle fouling out is obviously tough. His shot creation and defensive play is crucial to our success, but we have full confidence in Fred & his abilities on the court & Danny is a pro, he knows how to get the job done." #AskCoachJB https://t.co/gcEhRaSeEH- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
The Raptors lost Kyle Lowry earlier in this game - he fouled out with 6:12 to play in the fourth quarter. The Raptors were also without Powell for both overtime periods, as he fouled out with 1:09 to play in the fourth quarter.
Neither Fred VanVleet nor Danny Green scored in overtime, but to Bennett's point, it helps having players you can trust in those situations.
On taking care of the ball
"Every possession is so important that late in the game, you can't turn the ball over." #AskCoachJB https://t.co/Ls4XMM2qJl- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
The Raptors turned the ball over 17 times in Game 3, but only two of those turnovers came in the other periods.
On the importance of timeouts
"Timeout management is so crucial in games and is magnified in the playoffs when teams shorten their bench. Guys need to play more minutes, never hurts to have a spare to give your players a break." #AskCoachJB https://t.co/qgSrgp2iMp- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
Leonard and Siakam played a lot in Game 3, logging 52 minutes and 51 minutes, respectively.
On what the win meant personally
"Last year's playoffs run and winning the Larry OB was extra special for me because I got to do it as part of the team I grew up watching as a kid in Kitchener-Waterloo. Thanks for re-watching with me tonight! - @_JohnnyBennett- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 4, 2020
To see the rest of Bennett's Q&A, click here.