Last Updated: 2019-05-23
Well, at least Mike Budenholzer doesn’t have to worry about Drake all that much.
For one game anyway.
The Milwaukee Bucks coach made no secret of the fact that he was annoyed with the rapper coming on the floor to cheerlead and interact with Toronto coach Nick Nurse. But the Raptors’ “Global Ambassador” served as a useful distraction for his adopted (and adoptive) team.
Suffice it to say that his record sales will drop in Sudstown. They’ve already banned him from the radio, from what I understand.
Does Toronto’s 120-102 victory in Game 4 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals mean this is a whole new series? Or was it just a case of a good team “holding serve” as it were, winning a couple of games at home after going down two games on the road?
That’s what we have to explore.
Game 5 is scheduled to tip off at 8:35 PM ET at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, and in the NBA playoff betting odds posted on this game, the Bucks are solidly favored to rebound from Tuesday’s drubbing:
Milwaukee Bucks -7 (-101)
Toronto Raptors +7 (-109)
Over 216 points (-103)
Under 216 points (-107)
Those numbers, by the way, include “reduced juice,” which is designed to give you a great break in the odds, and thus is perhaps the best value there is in the sportsbook industry. Get it at BetAnySports.
We have to give Toronto a lot of credit; we felt as if their bench was at a disadvantage to that of Milwaukee’s, and in a game in which those reserves would be needed it would be a difference-maker. It certainly was a difference-maker – in the other direction. The Raptors’ bench outscored the Bucks by a 48-23 margin, out-shooting Milwaukee 44%-31%, and using three people – Serge Ibaka, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds; Norman Powell, who had 18 points, after 19 in the game prior; and Fred VanVleet, who tallied 13 points. They had the three best plus-minus ratings in the game, and this was a big aide to Kawhi Leonard, who has a leg injury and registered a Usage rating of just 23.7%. Surely his career-high 52 minutes in the double-OT win in Game 3 had its effect.
In the first three games of the series, however, Milwaukee had the 130-78 edge in bench points, and now they return home, in a situation where they have excelled, going 6-0 against the number after losing by double-digits. Tuesday’s loss brought their ATS record after a defeat to 19-5, which is still outstanding, obviously.
And when you look closer, Budenholzer’s team might be all too willing to see Powell repeat his pattern from Game 4. After all, he went just 6-of-18 from the field and had a Usage figure of 30.1%. And they could be in need of big contributions off the pines again. Nurse will not go so far as to say that Leonard is hurting badly, but it’s readily apparent. And he is pretty transparent about Kyle Lowry, whose left thumb is giving him “lots of pain.”
We’re not sure how this is going to affect some of the three-point shooting, but we can tell you that the Raptors, who shot just 27% from beyond the arc in four regular season meetings with the Bucks, are not only shooting a lot better than that (35.2%), but also better than the 32.7% playoff mark they came into the series with. Could we look for some regression there?
I’m thinking in that direction. I’m not willing to concede that the Raptors are going to have clear command from the second unit, or that they are going to do any better than the ten offensive rebounds they gathered in Game 4. I think Milwaukee’s attitude is that if Norman Powell wants to take FOURTEEN triples off the bench again, let him. We’ve got a team with two first-team All-Defense members (Giannis and Eric Bledsoe) and guys like Brook Lopez who are angry they didn’t make the second team, because maybe they belong. That’s an attitude we can use. Our faith in Milwaukee continues, as we lay the points.
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