The Toronto Raptors are set to play Game 5 against the Boston Celtics and they need everything they can get from someone who’s been way too quiet this series, Norman Powell.
For the series, Norman Powell is shooting a very poor 33.33 (9/27) percent from the field. When teams are down 2-0 in the playoffs, only 6.4 percent of the teams have come back from that deficit. Two stats that are totally unrelated but if the Toronto Raptors want to defy those odds again this year, they are going to need everything they can get from Powell.
The Toronto Raptors already tied the series up 2-2 as you all know but their biggest games are still ahead of him. With Nick Nurse and Brad Stevens playing chess back and forth with their battle of adjustments, there is still one pawn that has failed to make an impact for Nurse, Powell.
As previously mentioned, Powell isn’t shooting well and that is a very bad thing for the Raptors since that’s the only thing that he does really well. He’s an undersized wing whose Celtics perimeter defense fare well against him. He’s not a great passer or defender. He’s solely there to be that scoring boost off the bench, but apart from Game 3, Norman has been quiet.
More threes, fewer drives
Powell is an elite finisher at the rim with an efficiency of 67 percent during the season, however, in this series he has only made half of his attempts at the rim. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have made life difficult for him at the rim. Their size alone makes it hard for Powell to get anything done.
Now let’s talk about Powell’s three-point shot. Powell shot the three at a 41 percent clip per Cleaning The Glass for the regular season. This series so far, he is shooting not too far from that mark, 40 percent. But watching Powell has been perplexing this series, too many times has he passed up an open three to force a difficult drive to the rim.
I’m obviously not suggesting to stop getting to the rim entirely, half of Powell’s game is making the right cut to the basket. Just passing up an open three, or straying away from an open three position to get closer to the rim is something he should think twice before doing, given the Celtics have done a marvelous job of shutting down the paint last game.
In Game 4, Powell didn’t even a three-point attempt and ended the game with 5 points on a 1/6 shooting night. If Powell is going to be playing, then taking those open three-point shots and knocking them down will be important. Especially since I expect Stevens to finally stop giving Ibaka so many open looks from three. A risk Stevens has been taking but is clearly not paying off — Ibaka is shooting 50.7 percent from three this series.
So let’s assume Ibaka doesn’t get all those open looks anymore, the Raptors are going to need to get those extra 10-15 points from someone else and it has to be Powell. Nurse has trimmed his rotation to just Ibaka and Powell these last couple of games and it’s clear that he still trusts Powell to be that go-to scorer off the bench.
The Toronto Raptors like always are trying to accomplish the impossible or hardest tasks possible. Win a series from down 2-0 against an elite team. But they are going to need Powell to have his big game if the Raptors want any hope of completing that task. Powell has always been known for having big games every now and then, and we are bound for a ‘Playoff Powell’ game today.