Toronto Raptors @ Milwaukee Bucks | NBA Playoffs Predictions and Betting
The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have been the two best teams in the Eastern Conference all season making it only fitting that they meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. While the Bucks are favored, it is hard to say who has the edge. Will it be Milwaukee because they are rested or Toronto because they are riding a high from beating the 76ers just a couple of days ago?
Spread: Bucks by 6
Money Line: Raptors +215; Bucks -255
*Odds via BetOnline.ag
After years of being stopped cold in the playoffs by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raptors thought it was necessary to change things up a bit. After he made the buzzer beater against the 76ers for the win in Game Seven, it is safe to say the Raptors are happy to have Kawhi Leonard on the roster. They should consider themselves lucky as well since he did most of the heavy lifting against the 76ers. During the regular season, Leonard led the way on the offensive end of the court with 26.6 points/game (approx. 23 percent of Toronto’s per/game average). But against the 76ers he averaged 34.7 points (about 34 percent). Pascal Siakam scored more than his regular season average, and Kyle Lowry’s average was just a point different. But the bench was not nearly as productive; when Leonard has taken a break in the playoffs, the team has been 16 points worse. Against a tough team like the Bucks, the Raptors are going to need to continue to play a solid defensive game, like they have been (second best in the postseason so far). But if they want to increase their chances of making the Finals, they are going to have to figure out how to make the bench more productive again.
After bulldozing their way through the competition in the regular season, the Bucks have continued to do more of the same in the playoffs. While the Celtics gave them a slight scare in Game One, they went on to dominate the next four to clinch the series and earn a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. What bodes well for the Bucks is that they have done so in the same fashion as they did during the regular season. They are averaging 116.9 points a game (down from 118.1). The individual contributions from the starters are almost the same as they were during the regular season. Defensively, they have actually been playing better (98.2 def rating; 104.9 during the regular season). Of course, the competition has been relatively easy, so far, which helps make the statistics look even better. But until the Raptors can force the Bucks to do otherwise, all Milwaukee needs to do is continue to play like they have been all season.
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.
Odds and Predictions
On paper, this series features two of the better all-around teams in the NBA. Both were good on both ends of the court during the regular season and have continued to do so in the postseason. But as a team, the Raptors are scoring ten fewer points a game then they did in the regular season. The Bucks, on ter other hand, are scoring the same and playing better defense. The most significant difference has been the bench play. Toronto’s bench has only been averaging 21.6 points a game; during the regular season, they averaged 36.2. Milwaukee’s bench averaged 31.6 points/game during the regular season and have been pitching in 37.4 during the playoffs. The Raptors are going to need more than Kawhi Leonard to beat the Bucks. Until they prove they have something else, Milwaukee is going to remain the smart wager in this series.
Expert Betting Tip
Take the Bucks to win (-255), straight up and against the spread (-6). As for the over/under (217), Milwaukee has had no trouble scoring points during the postseason, but Toronto has. Go with the under.