#2 Toronto Raptors (0-0) @ #1 Milwaukee Bucks (0-0)
NBA Basketball Playoffs: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 8:30PM ET (Fiserv Forum)
Lines and Odds: Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5), Over/Under: 217.5
Free NBA Picks Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks
In this highly anticipated Eastern Conference Finals matchup, the Milwaukee Bucks are set to host the Toronto Raptors in what’s expected to be an extensive series. The Bucks are coming off a 4-1 series against the Boston Celtics where they won four straight, whereas the Raptors recently defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in an up-and-down series, wrapping up the semis with a Kawhi Leonard last second buzzer beater. With the Bucks rested and the Raptors on full drive, expect this matchup to be as entertaining as it gets.
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the best team in the NBA statistically, with the best overall record and number one in defensive efficiency. Their ability to spread the floor in transition is one of the main strengths of Milwaukee, which they put into full display during the playoffs. After sweeping the Detroit Pistons in the first round, the Greek Freak led the charge to carry the Bucks past the Celtics in just five games, finishing them off 116-91 on Thursday night. Giannis had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists, while Nikola Mirotic, who was acquired from the Pelicans after a relatively disappointing stint at New Orleans, led with 11 rebounds. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe also impressed, scoring 19 and 18 points respectively, while George Hill and Mirotic finished in double figures. This adds additional pressure for Toronto’s top five defense due to the ability for the Bucks to make any player score in the perimeter. The result is Giannis penetrating inside, which some might argue is even worse, due to the Greek Freak’s ability to score in the paint (57.8 FG% for the season). With Malcolm Brogdon also back into the fold after additional rest, expect the former rookie of the year to have upward of 20 minutes. Antetokounmpo also leads Milwaukee in assists and rebounds during the season, with 5.9 APG and 12.5 RPG, making him a leading MVP candidate this season.
The Toronto Raptors are the second best team in the NBA based on their regular season record, showcasing exactly why in Game 7’s dramatic victory at home against the 76ers. Kawhi once again came up clutch, scoring 41 points on 16/39 FG, while Pascal Siakam led with 11 rebounds and Kyle Lowry with 6 assists. Serge Ibaka, who came off the bench during the semis and is likely to come off the bench in game 1 tonight, put up 17 points, but is not expected to do much against the number-one ranked defense. Overall, the Raptors did an excellent job on Joel Embiid, not making him the primary option in any game during the series. However, their next matchup will be more challenging given the skillset of Giannis, but Toronto will likely rely on Kawhi once again. They lost three of four games to Milwaukee during the regular season, finishing only two games behind the league leaders in record. Expect not only for Leonard to be the primary option, but also for three point shooters to be used to a much bigger extent during this series, including Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, and Siakam. This season, Leonard led with 26.6 PPG on 49.6FG%, Ibaka led with 8.1 RPG, and Kyle Lowry led with 8.7 APG.
Cover the Spread 365 Betting Trends
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Toronto’s last 13 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Toronto’s last 6 games on the road
Toronto are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against Milwaukee.
The total has gone OVER in 11 of Milwaukee’s last 16 games.
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Milwaukee’s last 7 games against Toronto.
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Milwaukee’s last 9 games against an opponent in the Atlantic division
Free NBA Scores Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors
The Over/Under is set at a surprisingly high 217.5, given that the Houston-Golden State, which showcased the top two offenses, were usually around the 220’s. The only way I could see the total going OVER is if the three point percentage of both teams increases significantly, which has been a specific problem to the Toronto Raptors in the last two series, especially on the road. Expect not only for defense to be the main point of focus between the two teams in Game 1, but for the total to most likely go UNDER and possibly a blowout.
Pick: UNDER (217.5)