Milwaukee at Toronto NBA Playoffs Lines & Game 1 Preview

Posted by Kenny Bell on Friday,April 14, 2017 9:35, EDT in

The Raptors have never reached the NBA Finals, but they might have their most talented team ever. No. 3 Toronto opens its Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series north of the border against No. 6 Milwaukee on Saturday. The Dinos are 7-point NBA lines favorites.

Milwaukee at Toronto NBA Playoffs Lines & Game 1 Preview

When: Saturday, April 15, 5:30 PM ET
Where: Air Canada Centre
TV: ESPN
Stream: WatchESPN
RadioMilwaukee / Toronto
NBA Odds: Raptors -7 (201.5)

Why Bet On Milwaukee?

The Bucks finished the season with a 42-40 record, marking the team’s best record since the 2009-10 season (46-36), which is the last time the franchise posted a regular-season record above .500. The 2017 NBA Playoffs mark Milwaukee’s 29th postseason berth in franchise history. Milwaukee has a 106-122 (.465) record all-time in postseason play and is 65-69 in team history in first round games After the All-Star break, the Bucks went 17-10 while getting outscored by 1.1 points per game. How’s that work? Though the Bucks are at a disadvantage as the lower seed, Giannis Antetokounmpo is type of transcendent player who can overcome a better team.

The Greek Freak finished the 2016-17 regular season ranking in the league’s top-20 in total points (1,832/14th), rebounds (700/15th), assists (434/T-18th), blocks (151/5th) and steals (131/9th). No player in NBA history had done this for an entire season.

Antetokounmpo was the only player in the NBA to lead his team in points (22.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (5.4), blocks (1.9) and steals (1.6) per game. The only other players in NBA history (since 1946-47) to lead their teams in all of these categories for a full season are Dave Cowens (1977-78), Kevin Garnett (2002-03), LeBron James (2008-09) and Scottie Pippen (1994-95).

Antetokounmpo averaged 24.8 points, 7.8 boards, 7.0 assists and 1.3 steals in four games against Toronto this season. The Bucks won just one of those but it was the most recent. As deep and versatile as the Raptors are, they don’t have anyone that matches up well with the Freak.

Why Bet On Toronto?

The Raptors upgraded the roster at the trade deadline, adding power forwards Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to a rotation that was already stout everywhere else. Toronto went 18-7 after the break despite not getting All-Star guard Kyle Lowry back in the lineup until last week. The Raptors, who sport the Eastern Conference’s best point differential (plus-4.2 ppg), are comfortable series favorites.

Lowry coming back from a wrist injury with four games left in the regular season is huge for the Raptors. He was in the midst of a career-year and leads the team with 192 3-pointers despite missing 21 games. The Raptors are 10-0 after the All-Star break in games where DeMar DeRozan has poured in at least 30 points. No other team or player has a streak of that length.

The Raptors were the best fourth-quarter team in the league this season, outscoring their opponents by 13.0 points per 100 possessions in the final 12 minutes of regulation. They had the league’s second best fourth-quarter offense and fourth best fourth-quarter defense.

The Raptors defeated the Bucks 3-1 in the 2016-17 regular season series. In three games against Milwaukee, Lowry paced the Raptors with averages of 23.0 points, 6.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 50.0 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from three. DeRozan averaged 22.3 points in three games against the Bucks.

Toronto has won 13 of its last 15 regular season games over Milwaukee. With the Bucks win on March 4, Milwaukee snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Raptors in the series. The Raptors have won four consecutive games against the Bucks in Toronto.

Milwaukee at Toronto Game 1 NBA Playoffs Pick: Toronto Raptors

Toronto is my Eastern Conference championship pick as things stand right now. The Raptors should cover the spread here to take a 1-0 lead.