The Milwaukee Bucks are a team of unusual construction. And they are a product of the right scheme at the right time with the right coach. It also doesn’t hurt when you have that superstar to wrap the whole thing around. Not everybody had Giannis Antetokounmpo figured as a superstar at first (more on that in a second), but he certainly is. However, it takes more than the contributions of one “freakish” athlete to get to the NBA Finals. Milwaukee has three more steps to go before it gets there, and they’ll try to make it a home seep as they take the floor with the Toronto Raptors in Game 2, slated to begin at 8:30 PM ET at the Fiserv Forum.
I’ll be perfectly honest with you – we were very fortunate to be able to cover with the Bucks in Game 1. They didn’t play particularly well on Wednesday, especially for a team that came into the festivities with a lot more rest. The Raptors blew cold late, and that let us slide up over the number.
But that doesn’t mean we’re discouraged going forward. In fact, we may have more energy than before as we move forward.
In the NBA playoff odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports (which includes reduced juice), the Bucks are, of course, once again laying points:
Milwaukee Bucks -6.5 (-109)
Toronto Raptors +6.5 (-101)
Over 216 points (-105)
Under 216 points (-105)
Speaking of the “Greek Freak,” there were some freakish things that happened in Game 1. Toronto lost a game where it had two 30-point scorers for the first time in seven years. And outside of Kyle Lowry or Kawhi Leonard, they got one field goal in the second half. Oh, and by the way, the Bucks won for the first time this season when shooting under 40% from the field.
I guess you could also say it was freakish that Lowry was hot from beyond the arc (7 for 9), considering that he was just 1-for-20 against the Raptors in the regular season.
There was one thing that was rather consistent, however. If you recall the piece we wrote for Game 1, we told you that Malcolm Brogdon appeared to make a lot of difference for the Bucks when he was on the floor against Toronto this season, with a +26.9 points per 100 possessions. Well, the numbers were a very clear indication that he is making a big difference again.
Brogdon got to play 27 minutes as he continues to come back after his foot injury, scoring 15 points and providing some monster advantage for a team that needed to surge at the end with a 15-point edge in the fourth period to pull out a win/cover. With Brogdon on the floor. Milwaukee outscored Toronto by 18 points, When he was not out there, the Bucks were outscored by ten. Logic dictates that head coach Mike Budenholzer would have him out there as much as possible, but now we’ll see a bigger test as to whether the foot can handle that extended playing time with only a one-day turnaround.
Brogdon was the rookie of the year when he came into the league, and no other second-round draft picks have won that award, before or since. But getting value has not been an unusual thing for this franchise. I was amazed to see that only one member of their rotation has been taken higher than 15th in the draft (Giannis was 15th, believe it or not), and that was Brook Lopez, who was the #10 pick (by the Nets) when he came out of Stanford. So obviously former GM John Hammond and his successor, Jon Horst, have known what they were doing. More on this as we move ahead in the series.
Personally, I’m a great believer in teams being able to put some rest “in the bank.” There is a cumulative effect of this, and Toronto still has not had an opportunity to catch its breath after the Game 7 win over Philadelphia, which featured a stunning buzzer-beater from Kawhi Leonard.
And you gave to love a guy like Brogdon, who gets the job done at both ends and doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses in his game. He’s an ace in the hole, and when you think about it, when someone who is one of only eight players EVER to shoot 50% field goals, 40% triples and 90% free throws is coming off the bench, and about the #4 guy on your team (at least since Eric Bledsoe became a defensive stalwart), you’ve got something pretty special going on.
Forget the freakish stuff (and we don’t mean Giannis).
We’re laying the points again.
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