The Milwaukee Bucks made a statement in Game 2, running away with a 125-103 win over the Toronto Raptors at Fiserv Forum.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 30 points and 17 rebounds, while the Bucks' role players stood tall with Ersan Ilyasova, Nikola Mirotic, Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill combining for 59 points on the night.
With the series now shifting to Toronto for the next two games, here's four key takeaways from today's action:
Bucks bench lights it up
On their home floor, the Bucks' role players dominated from the jump, with Ersan Ilyasova (17 points), Malcolm Brogdon (14) and George Hill (13) giving the Bucks plenty of offensive production.
At the half, the Bucks bench had 31 points, outscoring the Raptors starters (28) getting contributions the whole way down the roster.
The reserves plus Mirotic, who finshed with 15 points, combined for four of the Bucks five three-pointers in the opening quarter, with Brogdon, Ilyasova, Hill and Mirotic combining for 22 points, helping extend the lead late in the quarter with a key 10-3 run with Antetokounmpo on the bench.
Ersan Ilyasova & @threekola each find themselves with 15 points for the @Bucks in the first half of Game 2!- NBA Fantasy (@NBAFantasy) May 18, 2019
-Ilyasova: 15 PTS, 2 REB, 2 STL - 23.4 FPTS
-Mirotic: 15 PTS, 4 REB - 19.8 FPTS#NBAFantasy #FearTheDeer #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/xXMjw3YyGe
The Bucks' reserves outscored the Raptors 54-39 on the night, with Toronto's second unit putting in one of their best displays of the post-season - unfortunately it came on a night where the Bucks just couldn't miss.
For the Raptors sake, they will be hoping the Bucks' bench won't be able to replicate that kind of production on the road.
In Game 1, Marc Gasol couldn't find a rhythm offensively and Brook Lopez killed him on the other end of the floor.
Gasol finished with six points, 11 boards and five assists, but the Raptors needed more from him on both ends of the court in a game that was decided by only a few possessions.
In Game 2, Gasol still could not find a way to make an impact on the offensive end and defensively, he wasn't making much of a difference either. His struggles were evident, and head coach Nick Nurse took notice as well.
He pulled Gasol from the game after his first stint in the third quarter and the big man never returned to the game. Gasol finished with just 19 minutes and 21 seconds of playing time, his lowest total since Feb. 22. He only scored two points, dished one assist and grabbed five rebounds.
Over two games in this series, Gasol is now 3-for-20 (15.0%) from the field and 2-for-9 (22.2%) from beyond the arc.
Nurse has stuck with the same starting five for the entirety of this playoffs. With Gasol being significantly outplayed by reserve centre Serge Ibaka in this one, don't be surprised if you see a lineup change to try and change things up with the Raptors trailing 0-2.
Kawhi's supporting cast
To be clear from the start - this excludes the Raptors' bench. Toronto's second unit had one of their better games, going for 39 points.
But the starters not named Kawhi Leonard were not good in this one. We already broke down Gasol's struggles above, but it was an underwhelming performance for Kyle Lowry, Danny Green and Pascal Siakam, too.
After exploding for 30 points in Game 1, Lowry took a step back in Game 2. He scored 15 points and dished out four assists, but he shot just 30.8% from the field and was 2-for-9 (22.2%) from long range.
Green scored only eight points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field and Siakam, who the Raptors desperately need to score to be successful, also scored eight points and only took nine shot attempts.
As a collective group, Raptors' starters not named Kawhi Leonard were 11-for-37 (29.7%) from the field and 4-for-17 (23.5%) from beyond the arc for 33 points.
Yes, 33 points - 21 fewer points than the Bucks second unit.
This is unacceptable at any stage of the season, but in the Eastern Conference Finals against the team with the best record in the NBA all season, you don't give yourself much of a chance to come away with a road win and you saw that in this Game 2.
Could you just make sure the Gasol one goes ahead of that one? I had a line in there saying "We already broke down Gasol's struggles above"
Taking care of the ball
The Bucks turned the ball over just seven times in Game 2, limiting the Raptors' ability to get out on the break.
Tying their season low for turnovers, the Bucks were able to dictate the pace of the game, sticking to their game plan as the ball flew around the court with ease. They racked up 27 assists on their 43 made field goals, which will no doubt bring a smile to the face of coach Mike Budenholzer.
On the flip side, they made the Raptors pay, getting out in transition and turning 13 Raptors turnovers into 19 points.
Pat blocks, George scores!!- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 18, 2019
THAT'S BENCH MOBBIN' ⚡️#FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/lX6fzjtuAG
When the Bucks are out and running, they are one of the most devastating teams in the league and the Raptors can ill-afford to let them pick up so many easy buckets.