2. Brooklyn bench dominance vital
The Brooklyn Nets continue to have one of the best reserve units in the NBA, with the backups contributing 47.6 points per game — second-best in the league.
The surprising stat here is that the Toronto Raptors, despite coach Nick Nurse juggling his starting unit more than perhaps any coach of any 50-win team in the history of the NBA, are in the lower middle of the pack when it comes to bench production.
The Raptors average 35.9 points per game from the bench, ranking 18th-best in the league, even though Nurse has had a tendency to mix-and-match starters based on matchups, more akin to a baseball manager than a basketball coach.
Fifteen different players have started at least one game for Toronto this season and Nurse has deployed 22 different starting lineups, none for more than 26 games and only that unit — Danny Green, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka — starting more than 10.
The Nets have had an added advantage off the bench of late, as Caris LeVert has really rounded back into his early-season form over the last four games, including scoring 24 points with a team-high six assists in the loss Monday night to the Milwaukee Bucks.
LeVert has averaged 18.3 points and 4.3 assists over his last four games, putting in 28.1 minutes a night and shooting 48 percent overall and going 8-for-18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range.
That’s been even more important for Brooklyn considering Spencer Dinwiddie‘s struggles over his last three games. Dinwiddie has averaged just 11.0 points and 3.0 assists in 23.0 minutes per game over that span, shooting 34.5 percent overall and going just 1-for-14 from deep.
Toronto knows about struggling backup point guards, as former Net Jeremy Lin hasn’t exactly been tearing it up since signing with the Raptors on Feb. 13. Since dropping 20 points on the New York Knicks on March 18, Lin is averaging just 6.0 points and 1.7 assists in 17.4 minutes per game.
He’s shot 35.9 percent overall and gone 4-for-13 from 3-point range over that seven-game stretch.
The Raptors have been shuffling the point guard rotation a bit, as Kyle Lowry has been on a limited minutes diet since missing four games last month with a balky right ankle. Lowry, who averages nearly 34 minutes a game, hasn’t topped the 30-minute mark since before he was sidelined.