LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA (AP) — Kyle Lowry limped off the floor in the first quarter and the Toronto Raptors will surely need their point guard in the next round.
Not when they simply unleashed the best bench effort in NBA history on Sunday night.
Norman Powell scored 29 points, fellow reserve Serge Ibaka added 27 points and 15 rebounds and the Raptors steamrolled into the Eastern Conference semifinals by routing the Brooklyn Nets 150-122 to complete a four-game sweep.
The Raptors got 100 points off their bench, most in any game since official starters began being tracked in 1970-71, according to Elias. No bench had scored more than 94 in the regular season or 86 in the postseason.
“I think we just have confidence in each and every one of us that step on the floor and we work on offence,” Powell said. “I don’t think it really matters who’s in the game.”
The Raptors lost Lowry to a foot injury in the first quarter but the defending NBA champions had more than enough depth and power left to wrap up the first sweep in franchise history and set up a series with the Boston Celtics.
Boston, seeded third, ousted Philadelphia in four games. The series will start on Thursday.
Pascal Siakam had 20 points and 10 assists for the Raptors. They upped their record to 11-1 in the bubble and made it clear it won’t be easy to knock them off their spot atop the NBA.
Boston handed Toronto its lone loss since the restart and will be a much sterner test than the undermanned Nets, who were using converted guards as forwards, and forwards as centres.
The Raptors would likely need Lowry for that one. He was grimacing in pain in the first quarter and soon left the game and eventually the arena to have the injury examined elsewhere.
Caris LeVert scored 35 points for Brooklyn, which came to the bubble without many of its top players but went 5-3 in the seeding games to earn the seventh seed. But the Raptors overpowered them in three games and used a rally in the fourth quarter to win Game 2, the only one in which the Nets had a chance.
“We had an extreme resilience as a group, a competitive nature about us as a group and a sacrifice as a group for the men who came,” coach Jacque Vaughn said, “and extremely grateful for this group and the time we spent together”.
The Raptors began to get separation near the end of the first quarter and then seized control in the second, getting inside easily against the undersized Nets.
“I thought we were aggressive,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were certainly in attack mode.”