Last Updated: 2019-05-17
The second-seeded Toronto Raptors were in front for most of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but they couldn’t pull off an upset. The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks won the fourth quarter by 15 points to overcome an eight-point deficit from halftime and earn a 108-100 victory as 6.5-point favorites. It was an exhausting clash for both Toronto and Milwaukee, and we expect to see another thrilling battle in Game 2 at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee Friday night.
The Raptors will miss OG Anunoby (appendectomy) whose defense would mean a lot in this matchup, while the Bucks will be without Pau Gasol (ankle) and Donte DiVincenzo (heel), but both these guys are not the part of Mike Budenholzer’s rotation.
The Bucks opened as 6.5-point favorites with the total at 216.0 points and the Raptors at +240 money line odds. The bookies stick with an identical spread they set in the opener despite the fact that the Raptors could easily take a lead in the series. Also, they lowered the line on the totals by 2.5 points.
What’s at Stake?
The Raptors will be in big trouble if they afford another loss. They’ve never made a comeback after a 2-0 deficit in the playoff series, while only 20 teams made it in the NBA history. Also, it means the Bucks have a great opportunity to take a big step to the NBA Finals with a victory.
The Bucks are on a five-game winning streak following a Game 1 victory, and they’ve dropped just one of their ten contests this postseason. They made a big comeback on Wednesday to grab a win which is another boost for their confidence. On the other side, the Raptors lost the momentum after winning Game 7 of the semifinals and are certainly more tired than the Bucks who had a week off following their semifinal series with Boston.
Milwaukee continued its domination over Toronto, beating the Raptors in three of their four head-to-head duels in the regular season. However, the Bucks took the lead in the playoff series thanks to a great effort in the fourth quarter, trailing by seven points after the first three periods. Both Toronto and Milwaukee played some tough defense, so the Raptors shot 37.0% from the field, while the Bucks made 39.8% of their field goals. Also, the Bucks hit just 11 of their 44 3-point attempts (25.0%), while the Raptors hit 15 triples out of 42 attempts (35.7%). With all those missed shots, the battle on the glass was a huge factor, and the Bucks won it 60-46 including 15 offensive rebounds. Milwaukee scored 18 points in the paint more than Toronto and ten fast break points more than its rivals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard battled it out, but Brook Lopez was the key player in the Bucks’ victory. Lopez posted his career-high in the playoffs with 29 points, also adding 11 rebounds and four blocks, while he dropped 13 points in the fourth quarter. Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 14 boards, and six dimes, and Malcolm Brogdon added 15 points off the bench, proving he’ll be an X-factor in this series. Khris Middleton tallied a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, making just one triple out of six attempts. Middleton shot 46.7% from beyond the arc over the previous two rounds.
On the other side, Kawhi Leonard scored 31 points on 10-of-26 shooting from the field, and the Claw will have a difficult time against the Bucks’ defense. Kyle Lowry went off with 30 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field while making seven treys out of nine attempts, but it wasn’t enough to lift his team over the Bucks. Lowry shot just 28.1% from downtown in the previous two playoff series, and he needs to stay hot in Game 2, especially if Kawhi and Pascal Siakam continue with their shooting woes. Siakam made only six of his 20 shots in Game 1.
Obviously, both teams have a good defensive plan for the best players on the opposite side. Hereof, the other guys will have to step up and make big shots as Lopez did in the opener. Serge Ibaka had just four points, and the Raptors are 6-0 this postseason when Ibaka scores ten or more points. Also, the Bucks’ bench outscored the Raptors’ second unit by ten points.
The Raptors blew a huge opportunity in Game 1 but proved they can cope with the Bucks, so I think we’ll see another close game Friday night. As I’ve mentioned, the Raptors will be in a tough situation if they suffer another loss, and I think they have enough fuel in their tank to cover the spread, especially if they replicate the defensive performance from the opener. The Bucks are 5-1 straight up and ATS in their last six meetings with the Raptors, but they are just 2-4 straight up and ATS in the previous six H2H encounters in Milwaukee. Hereof, taking the winning margin of one to five points at +190 odds is another interesting wager.
When it comes to the totals, I would stick with the under even though we saw an up-tempo basketball in Game 1 with a bunch of missed shots. The Raptors need to slow down the Bucks if they want to upset the odds, while both teams are excellent at the defensive end.
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