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Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors display 'next man up' mentality in win over Milwaukee Bucks

With three key players resting, the Toronto Raptors advanced to 6-1 during the seeding game schedule with a 114-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks Monday night.

It was a complete team effort as Norman Powell (21), Matt Thomas (22) and Chris Boucher (25) combined to score 68 points to lead the way for Toronto.

Though neither team had much to play for with respect to the standings, there were a few things to take away from this one:

Next man up

Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet were all inactive for the Raptors while the Bucks were without MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Additionally, outside of Eric Bledsoe, no starter played more than 30 minutes. With the playoffs beginning in exactly a week, it was clear that both Nick Nurse and Mike Budenholzer had the bigger picture in mind.

On the ESPN broadcast, Nurse spoke on the extended rotation, saying: "We're gonna need these guys eventually," paving the way for a number of players to step up.

In the postseason, foul trouble and minor injuries happen. Can you trust the next guys in your rotation to produce?

Matt Thomas is an elite shooter

Entering Monday, Matt Thomas had seen just 30 minutes of action over five games at the NBA restart. As evidenced by his performance early on in this game, it didn't affect his ability to find his rhythm at all.

After sinking two triples in limited action on Sunday, Thomas came out on a mission Monday, scoring 12 points in the first quarter alone.

He would go on to finish with a career-high 22 points (4-for-8 from deep), an encouraging sign for the playoffs.

Thomas might not be a staple in the rotation but Nurse can rely on him to knock down shots if teams try to impose a zone defence or, down the line, against a team that defends like the Bucks, who allow more 3-point attempts per game than any other team.

Chris Boucher looks ready to crack the rotation again

Throughout the season, Boucher's playing time has varied but he's always ready to step up when his number is called.

With the Raptors finally at full strength, he hasn't been able to find very many minutes behind both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka during the team's time in Orlando. Like he's proven time and time again, Boucher was ready to play extended minutes in this one.

In 29 minutes of action, he finished with a career-high 25 points (on 9-for-15 shooting), pulled down 11 rebounds (five offensive), snagged two steals and blocked two shots.

He also made sure to have the biggest highlight of the night…

Bonjour!

This deserves to stand on its own for the bench reaction if nothing else.

Sheesh.

Norm's back

From time to time you see memes about how Norman Powell taps into another level while playing against the Bucks. He did so in the 2017 playoffs and in last season's conference finals.

Add Monday night's performance to the "Norm vs. Milwaukee" file.

Starting in place of VanVleet, Powell finished with 21 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field and 4-for-5 from deep in 26 minutes of action. He also tied a season-high with eight boards and blocked a career-high three shots.

After struggling in the first few seeding games, Norm appears to be finding his footing. The Raptors will hope he can continue this play regardless of if it's in a starting or reserve role.

What's next

The Raptors are back in action on Wednesday when they face the Philadelphia 76ers at 6:30 p.m. on TSN.

With Ben Simmons reportedly out for the season and Joel Embiid nursing an ankle injury, it's unclear just how much star power will be present on the floor.

Two more tune-ups until it's playoff time. See you then!

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