Last Updated: 2019-05-20
The second-seeded Toronto Raptors needed a double-overtime to outlast the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks 118-112 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Raptors cut their deficit in this series but they are still in a difficult situation, desperately needing to earn one more victory on the home court before they return to Milwaukee. The Bucks will try their best to get one step away from the NBA Finals, so another thriller is on a horizon as Game 4 is set for Tuesday night at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.
Milwaukee will be without Pau Gasol (ankle) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel) who are both done for the season. The Raptors will miss OG Anunoby (appendectomy) who will stay sidelined for the rest of the series, for sure.
The Bucks opened as 2.5-point favorites with the total at 216.0 points and the Raptors at +120 money line odds. The Raptors were listed as 2.5-point favorites in the previous duel, so it’s a slight surprise to see them listed as underdogs on this one.
What’s at Stake?
I’ve mentioned that the Raptors desperately need to win Game 4 and tie the series because only 11 teams in the NBA history have made a come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the playoff series, and the Raptors are not on the list. Also, the Bucks look unbeatable on the home court, so the eventual loss in Game for could be fatal for the Raptors.
The Raptors looked really bad in Game 2, but they found the way to bounce back and put an end to the Bucks’ six-game winning streak. This should be a huge boost for the Raptors’ confidence, but Nick Nurse’s boys could struggle with fatigue, especially Kawhi Leonard who played career-high 52 minutes Sunday night. Also, the Raptors had an exhausting seven-game series with the Sixers in the semifinals, while the Bucks thrashed off the Celtics in five games.
The key for the Raptors’ success in Game 3 was their defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Raptors constantly doubled team the Greek Freak who scored just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting from the field. Giannis posted 23 rebounds, seven assists, and four blocks, but he also turned the ball over whopping eight times. Khris Middleton had a terrible night with nine points on 3-of-16 shooting, while Eric Bledsoe also made just three of his 16 field-goal attempts. George Hill and Malcolm Brogdon both made a huge contribution off the bench for the Bucks, as Hill had 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field, while Brogdon added 20 points.
On the other side, Kawhi Leonard led the way for the Raptors with 36 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, but this time, the Claw had strong support from his teammates. Pascal Siakam bounced back from a poor performance in Game 2 to score 25 points along with 11 rebounds, and three steals. Marc Gasol spent 45 minutes on the floor to account for 16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and five blocks in his best display of this postseason. Also, Norman Powell added 19 points off the bench. All these guys will have to replicate their performance if the Raptors want to beat the Bucks in Game 4.
Both Milwaukee and Toronto played tough defense in this series, and we saw just 192 points in the total in the regulation Sunday night. The Bucks shot just 37.3% from the field and made 20 turnovers, while they also missed 11 free throws. On the other side, the Raptors made 39.2% of their field goals along with 17 turnovers, but they had 28 assists. Hereof, both teams will have to modify their offensive setups and adapt to the rivals’ defense if they want to escape with a victory.
The Bucks are still looking like a team that is very difficult to beat even though they are playing on the road. However, the Raptors found the winning formula in Game 2. The fatigue will be a factor which is not a good sign for the Raptors’ backers, but I think they will find the way to cope with it, so I’m backing the hosts to cover. I expect to see another thrilling battle, so picking the winning margin of one to five points at +170 odds is an interesting wager at greater wages.
The over is 2-1 in this series, but Game 3 was finished in the over after a double-overtime. With excellent defensive performance on both sides, I expect to see a tight clash that hopefully won’t go into overtime, so I’m backing the under.
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