Raptors at Bucks Game 1 Pick and Prediction

The Golden State Warriors took control of their Western Conference Finals series with a dominant 22-point win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 on Tuesday night. Now, all eyes will shift to the Eastern Conference, where the top-two seeds will square off to begin their series. The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks will host the No. 2-seeded Toronto Raptors in one of the most highly-anticipated Eastern Conference playoff series in years.

The Bucks are fresh off of a five-game stomping of the Boston Celtics in the last round. The Raptors, of course, just beat the Philadelphia 76ers in seven games thanks to Kawhi Leonard’s bouncy buzzer-beater on Sunday night.

The following odds are courtesy of our live odds feed:

Betting Data Raptors Bucks
2019 Straight-Up 66-28 68-23
2019 Home 37-11 37-9
2019 Away 29-17 31-14
2019 ATS 43-50-1 55-32-4
2019 ATS Home 22-26-0 27-17-2
2019 ATS Away 21-24-1 28-15-2
2019 O/U 49-44-1 46-44-1
2019 O/U Home 25-23-0 23-22-1
2019 O/U Away 24-21-1 23-22-1

Running Raptors

The Raptors made the splashy trade last summer to acquire Leonard last summer with an eye on winning a championship. The move came with all sorts of risks considering Leonard’s contract is set to expire after this season, but the Raptors made the call knowing he could ultimately be the difference between another early playoff exit and a championship.

Kawhi has been carrying the Raptors to this point. He almost single-handedly got Toronto past Philly in the last round, and he has upped his productivity in the playoffs as a whole. After averaging 26.6 points per game during the regular season, Leonard is up to 31.8 points per game through the Raps’ first 12 playoff games. He has also increased his rebounding from 7.3 a game during the regular season to 8.5 to this point in the postseason.

Leonard accounted for 41 of Toronto’s 92 points in the Game 7 clincher against Philadelphia, though the matchup with Milwaukee is a bit more daunting on paper. Leonard was “held” to 22 points per game on 42.6% shooting across three regular season meetings with the Bucks.

The Bucks will obviously focus most of their attention on stopping Leonard, which means some of his teammates may have to step up offensively. Most of those duties will fall onto the shoulders of Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry.

Lowry has endured noteworthy playoff struggles in the past, but he’s been able to focus on other things with Leonard and Siakam handling most of the scoring. Lowry being Toronto’s third-best player caters to his game far more than his previous role as the team’s co-alpha with DeMar DeRozan in previous seasons.

Bucks: The Team to Beat?

Things looked a little shaky for the Bucks in the last round after the Celtics stormed into Milwaukee and came away with a blowout win in Game 1. Considering the Bucks had just steamrolled a mediocre Detroit team in the first round, that loss to Boston had many wondering whether Milwaukee was truly ready for prime time.

If the last four games have taught us anything, it’s that Milwaukee is for real. The Bucks crushed the will of the Celtics in what was ultimately a relatively easy five-game series victory. They have had six days off to wait for Toronto to advance into the conference finals.

These have been the two best teams in the Eastern Conference all year long, and it’ll be fascinating to see these teams tangle over the course of seven games. Trying to stifle Giannis Antetokounmpo will be objective No. 1 for the Raptors defensively. Giannis averaged 27 points, 15.3 rebounds, and five assists per game across the three head-to-head showdowns with Toronto during the regular season.

The Pick

Toronto has had a couple of days off, while the Bucks have been waiting around for a week. There could definitely be a rust factor for Milwaukee here. Fatigue could be in play for the Raptors, but I imagine they’ll be up and ready for this one tonight in spite of the short rest.

The Bucks won three of the four regular season meetings between the teams, though the lone Toronto victory did take place on the Bucks’ home court. These teams have been neck-and-neck atop the East all year long, so I expect this series to go six or seven games.

Game 1 is generally tough to predict, but I like Toronto to at least keep this one close. 6 ½ points is a fairly big spread considering these teams are about equal from a talent perspective. I still think the Bucks will find a way to pick up a win at home, but give me the Raptors covering the 6 ½-point spread at -110 in Game 1.

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Taylor Smith

Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, but he’s willing to take one for the team on that front every now and then.

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