Milwaukee Bucks @ Toronto Raptors | NBA Playoffs Predictions and Betting
Heading into Game Five Thursday night, the Milwaukee Bucks had not lost three games in a row all season. So, there was ample reason to think they would right the ship and pull out a win at home—but the Raptors had another ending in mind. Now it is Milwaukee fighting to remain alive while the Raptors try to close out the series.
Spread: Raptors by 2.5
Money Line: Raptors -140; Bucks +120
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
The general assumption after the Bucks lost control of the series with back-to-back losses in Toronto, was that they would regain control with a win at home in Game Five—but that didn’t happen. But as frustrating as three losses in a row has to be, the real frustrating part is that they didn’t play a bad game. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a good night (24 points, six rebounds, and six assists). He got plenty of help from the rest of the team with four other guys scoring in double digits led by Eric Bledsoe with 20 points and Malcolm Brogdon with 18. They outrebounded Toronto (53-45) and had more assists (26-19). They just didn’t have more than the one thing that matters—points. But Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is not about to overreact: “It’s first to four. We’ve got to go to Toronto, get a game. I think the group will be ready.” Milwaukee didn’t play a bad game in Game Five; Toronto just happened to play a better one. The Bucks don’t really need to do anything drastically different. They just can’t let the Raptors keep the game close. That means Antetokounmpo needs to put this one away for the Bucks when opportunity allows.
It didn’t look good for the Raptors early on in the series, but after notching three wins in a row they have a chance to close out the Eastern Conference Finals against the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks Saturday night. But do they have the game to get it done? Their issues in Games One and Two revolved around their offense, but several players other than Kawhi Leonard have stepped up during the three-game winning streak. Since it has been different guys stepping up to various degrees, it has been harder for the Bucks to compensate on defense. With Leonard doing a good job on Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have not been able to counter with an offensive push of their own. But now that the Bucks are facing elimination, they are bound to throw something new at the Raptors to gain an edge. Will Toronto be able to counter?
Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks Head-to-Head
The Raptors and Bucks played four times during the regular season with the Bucks winning three and the Raptors only one. Toronto lost both home games but managed to win one of the two in Milwaukee. From a historical perspective, the Bucks have owned the all-time series with the Raptors having won 51 of 89 games—including five of seven over the last two seasons. They have met once before in the postseason—the first round of the 2017 playoffs. Toronto won the series, 4-2. Toronto leads the current series, 3-2.
Odds and Predictions
This is a tough one. A case could be made for either team that if they play their game, they will come away with a win. But both teams obviously can’t play ‘their’ game. Someone’s game has to suffer at the expense of the other. So, will it be Antetokounmpo reasserting his will on the Raptors and leading the Bucks to a win? Or will the Raptors keep the momentum going from three straight wins and make it four? Antetokounmpo says the ankle issue that caused him to miss some critical moments at the end of Game Five is fine. Leonard didn’t appear bothered by his leg soreness, so both teams should be able to put their best foot forward. While the regular season stats say the Bucks are the better team, take the Raptors. The key to victory is having guys other than your superstar scoring points, and Toronto seems to have more guys capable of stepping up in the moment. Of course, they could all go cold as they have during a few games in the postseason, but barring that, Toronto (-140) wins this one, straight up and against the spread (-2.5 points).
Expert Betting Tip
This is going to be a competitive game that could easily go either way. But defense will continue to play a dominant role and keep the score low. So, when it comes to the over/under (212), take the under.