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The Milwaukee ‘Bench Mob’ is overwhelming Toronto

George Hill is demanding to know how this story got told. It’s true, he said. He did, in fact, jump into a chilly lake to save Paul George’s drowning dog a few years ago.

It was back when Hill and George were teammates on the Indiana Pacers. As both a self-identified “fix it” guy and an animal lover, Hill just had to jump in after the pooch when he saw it struggling to keep its head above water.

Hill approaches his role on the Milwaukee Bucks much the way he did in saving the struggling pup: He is ready when called upon and prides himself on his unselfishness. Along with his ability as a proven shooter, those traits made him well-suited for the Milwaukee system.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

The Bucks have touted their depth all season, and Hill, along with the rest of the team’s “Bench Mob,” often has been the difference-maker in the playoffs, too. Entering the Eastern Conference finals, the Milwaukee bench ranked third leaguewide in points per game, third in field goal percentage, first in 3-point attempts and second in assists.6

In a 125-103 Game 2 victory against the Toronto Raptors on Friday night, the Bucks’ bench outscored the Raptors’ backups 54-39. Milwaukee scored its most points in the first half of a playoff game (64) in the past 20 seasons, and the Bucks head to Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena for Game 3 on Sunday with a commanding 2-0 series lead.

It’s not the first time this postseason that Milwaukee’s bench players have been heavy contributors. The Bucks owed their Game 3 win over the Boston Celtics in the conference semifinals to a third-quarter run by the bench; Hill outscored Boston’s reserves 21-16 by himself for the game.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

But in the conference finals, the disparity between the two teams’ depth has been apparent. Toronto’s starting lineup has struggled to find chemistry, and Kawhi Leonard didn’t get much help in Game 2, as only two other Raptors finished in double figures. It wasn’t much better for Toronto in Game 1, as only three Raptors finished in double figures — and Milwaukee reserve guard Malcolm Brogdon outscored the visiting team’s bench 15-12.

Toronto’s depth was further stretched on Friday because starting center Marc Gasol, who has been a matchup target for the Bucks, scored only two points in 19 minutes on 1-of-9 shooting from the field. Pascal Siakam, officially a finalist for this season’s Most Improved Player award, fouled out in 26 minutes with eight points and was overpowered by Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Raptors are relying on Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell to play strong rotation minutes in this series; forward OG Anunoby is still not close to playing because of an emergency appendectomy just before the start of the postseason. VanVleet has struggled significantly, shooting only 28.4 percent from the field in the postseason, and Ibaka is the only reserve averaging more than 20 minutes in the playoffs. Powell had a strong Game 2 (14 points, 6 of 9 field goals), but prior to Friday, Toronto head coach Nick Nurse hadn’t played him more than 20 minutes since the first round against the Orlando Magic.