Norman Powell is Toronto’s Role Player Turned X-Factor

Credit: Getty Images

Norman Powell is Toronto’s Role Player Turned X-Factor

 

While the First Round series was tied at 2-2, the Toronto Raptors were in desperate need of a player to step up and take over Game 5. Getting his second straight postseason starting nod with center Jonas Valanciunas heading to the bench, all eyes were on guard Norman Powell.

Head coach Dwane Casey went with a small-ball lineup—6’10” Serge Ibaka as the tallest starter—and it worked, once again. Powell’s postseason career-high 25 points along with four rebounds, four assists, and three steals propelled Toronto over Milwaukee in the pivotal Game 5, 118-93. Along with a number of crowd-energizing dunks, Powell shot an efficient 8-of-11 from the field and 3-of-3 from three-point range.

Norman Powell was easily the ‘X-Factor’ in the Game 5 victory, and told reporters what drove him to play so well. “Energy, defense, aggressiveness to the rim,” said Powell on his performance.

 

Credit: ESPN Stats & Info

 

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Monday night’s performance makes Powell the fifth player in NBA history to be perfect from three-point range and make at least three, three-pointers in consecutive postseason games (the others are Jeff Hornacek, Robert Horry, Norris Cole and Mike Miller). Powell isn’t a great shooter, but is taking advantage of the opposition giving him open looks and hasn’t hesitated to knock them down.

Other than applauding a former second-round pick for putting up big numbers when it matters most, it’s fascinating to watch Normal Powell—the 46th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, coincidentally drafted by Milwaukee—strive against the team that drafted him. Powell has played 89 minutes in this series, and in that span, the Raptors have outscored the Bucks by 39 points. In the 151 minutes he has been on the bench, the Raptors have been outscored by 38 points.

Milwaukee Bucks head coach and former NBA legend Jason Kidd praises Powell’s confidence this series.

“[Norman] Powell has come in with a lot of energy on both sides of the ball and they’re feeding off of that,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

“He’s playing extremely hard and he’s knocking down shots. When you look at the stat sheet, he’s picked them up here the last couple of games just with his energy and his spirit.”

In four of the five games this series against Milwaukee, Powell is averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game; upward of his season averages of 8.4 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game.

 

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