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SALT LAKE CITY — As the Toronto Raptors vie for a first-round win against the Washington Wizards, former Utes Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl are finding success coming off the Raptors' bench.
The two former Utes have been a crucial part of the Raptors' success this season. Currently, the bench unit with the two Utes in rotation is the NBA’s 14th best reserve unit since 1982. When C.J. Miles, Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Wright are on the court, they’ve been outscoring opponents by 24.3 points per 100 possessions.
Wright is in his third season with the Raptors since being selected 20th overall in the 2015 NBA draft. In his first two season in the league, Wright appeared in only 54 games (mostly due to injury). This year, Wright appeared in 69 games where he averaged 20 minutes and eight points per game as he became the primary backup point guard behind All-Star Kyle Lowry.
With VanVleet out with a shoulder injury, Wright will continue to see more minutes in the NBA playoffs. The status for VanVleet to return for Game 5 is still listed as doubtful.
Wright is averaging 24.5 minutes this postseason. Over the course of four games, Wright has scored 42 points, is shooting 44.1 percent from the field, picked up 13 rebounds, and tied for a team high of eight steals.
Wright’s most impactful game in this first-round series was in Game 1 where he had 18 points, four assists, one block and three steals in the 114-106 victory.
On Sunday, Wright played 27 minutes for seven points, five assists and a block in the 106-98 loss to the Wizards.
YOU LIKE THAT! pic.twitter.com/i0OHicvUoJ— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 22, 2018
Poeltl is in his second season with the Raptors after being selected as the ninth pick of the 2016 draft. During his rookie year he appeared in 54 games where he averaged three points and 11 minutes of playing time. Poeltl’s role for the team has become bigger with the departure of Patrick Patterson and P.J. Tucker. This season, he has appeared in all 82 games, where he is averaging 18.6 minutes and six points a game.
This postseason, Poeltl is averaging 16 minutes. In four games, Poeltl has scored 21 points, shooting 75 percent from the field, and has picked up 16 rebounds.
Poeltl’s Game 4 against the Wizards Sunday night was the most impactful performance from the second-year player this series. The Austrian finished the night with 10 points, seven rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes of playing time.
For now it’s nice to see two Utes in action on basketball’s biggest stage in the NBA playoffs. As the rest of the postseason goes on, we hopefully will see more plays like these:
Ute to Ute pic.twitter.com/l4OvR81DaU— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) April 23, 2018
The series is tied 2-2. The Wizards will travel to Toronto for Game 5 Wednesday with a 5 p.m tipoff.
Lexi Lewis is studying public relations at Utah Valley University. You can follow her on twitter @lex_lew1018.