Raptors straddle the bench to sweep the Nets, first playoff series with the Celtics

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For the first time in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors swept a playoff series. Now, also for the first time in franchise history, the Raptors are gearing up for a streak against the Boston Celtics.

Both teams finished sweeps on Sunday, with Boston beating Philadelphia and the Raptors beating the Brooklyn Nets. But the Raptors also did it in record fashion.

With Kyle Lowry playing just nine minutes with an injured left foot and starting goalie Fred VanVleet dealing with fouls, the Raptors bench clocked an NBA record 100 points to lead Toronto to a 150-122 victory.

According to research from the Elias Sports Bureau, the 100 bench points are the highest by any team in a regular or playoff game since the starters were tracked from the 1970-71 season. The Raptors’ 150 points also marked the most they’ve ever scored in a playoff game.

But setting new records wasn’t what mattered for the post-game in Toronto. It was all about the victory itself.

“It’s cool, I guess. My main goal is to win, ”said Raptors guard Norman Powell, who led the team with 29 points off the bench. “It doesn’t matter how we do it, by 30 or a point. I just care about winning. It’s a cool little album to have. But I’m not going to think about it or think about it. Let’s move on to the next one. ”

According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, Powell and Serge Ibaka, who had 27 points and 15 rebounds in 19:50, became the second pair since 1970-71 to have 25 points each on the bench in a playoff game. , joining Montrezl. Harrell and Lou Williams, who did it last season for the LA Clippers.

Ibaka also became the first player in playoff history to have at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game while playing under 20 minutes.

Toronto has gone 1-3 this season against the Celtics, but faced them at three different times throughout the year – on the second night of the season, twice in four days starting on Christmas Day, and one more time. times in the bubble, which was a 22-point victory in Boston. It’s also Toronto’s only loss since the season resumed.

“They’re a great team and they’re playing some of the best basketball players right now,” Ibaka said. “We have confidence against them, and we know it won’t be easy. We have to come and play our best basketball against them. ”

Ibaka said he watched a Celtics game in the bubble and said they were flying a bit under the radar.

“They don’t talk a lot but they are a great team,” Ibaka said. “When someone comes in, they play hard, they play as a team, they have a good bench. We have to come play basketball, man. ”

The NBA said the series will begin on Thursday, giving both teams some rest before the game – something Raptors coach Nick Nurse has said he’s been looking forward to.

“Well we could definitely use a little rest, these games are coming up really fast,” Nurse said. “It was really a quick first round for both teams. Much faster than usual. This first round is usually very slow. ”

The rest will also give Toronto a chance to have Lowry ready for Game 1. The nurse said Lowry was going to have an MRI scan on his left arch after Sunday’s game.

Nurse used a shorter rotation in the playoffs and played her starters the most with Ibaka and Powell, typically turning into a separate eighth man every night – be it Chris Boucher, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Matt Thomas or Terence Davis.

Keeping these guys fresh is another reason the bench was able to score 100 points against Brooklyn, but Nurse will have to deal with minute management for the rest of the playoffs.

“I’m doing a pretty short rotation here, as you know,” Nurse said. “These guys, we all know, from Chris to Rondae to Matt and Terence, obviously Serge and Norm… the seven guys I play want to play more. It’s hard to deal with all of this sometimes. ”

While Toronto is hoping to have Lowry for the series, Boston will be without striker Gordon Hayward as he recovers from his sprained ankle. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said on Sunday Hayward returned to Boston to begin rehab.

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