NBA Eastern Conference First Round Betting Preview: #3 Toronto Raptors vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks

2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference First Round
#3 Toronto Raptors vs #6 Milwaukee Bucks
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Raptors -400 / Bucks +325 (Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks)

Game #1 – Saturday, April 15, 2017, 5:30 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Opening Line: Toronto -7
Current Line: Toronto -7
Opening Total: 202
Current Total: 199 1/2
Opening Money Line: Raptors -260 / Bucks +220
Current Money Line: Raptors -325 / Bucks +265

The Raptors take on the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs. Game one is Saturday in Toronto.

The 51-31 Toronto Raptors will take on the 42-40 Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs starting with game one Saturday in Toronto. The Raptors are the #3 seed in the East, and finished two games behind the Boston Celtics in the Atlantic Division. The Bucks are the #6 seed and finished tied for second in the Central Division with the Indiana Pacers. Both teams were nine games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Milwaukee won the tiebreaker for the #6 seed in the East over Indiana.

Toronto won the season series 3-1 against Milwaukee. The Bucks won the last meeting March 4 101-94 at home. The Raptors won the first three meetings of the season, including 105-99 in Milwaukee November 25 and in Toronto 122-100 December 12 plus 102-86 January 27. The teams have never met in the playoffs before.

Milwaukee is coached by Jason Kidd. The Bucks are 36-46 ATS and the total is 41-39-2 this season. The Bucks lost at the Boston Celtics 112-94 Wednesday night to close out the regular season.

Toronto is coached by Dwane Casey. The Raptors are 45-36-1 ATS and the total is 44-38 this season. The Raptors closed the regular season on a four game winning streak including a 98-83 win at the Cavaliers Wednesday night. Cleveland rested stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in that game.

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Milwaukee is being outscored 103.8-103.6 this season. The Bucks are #9 in points allowed and #20 in scoring. Milwaukee is shooting 47.4% from the field and 37% from 3 point range. The Bucks are #10 or better in both categories. Milwaukee makes 76.8% from the free throw line. Opponents are shooting 45.8% from the field and 35.4% from 3 point range. Milwaukee averages 40.4 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.5. The Bucks are #8 in rebounds allowed, but #29 in rebounding. Milwaukee averages 24.2 assists, 13.4 turnovers, 8.1 steals and 5.3 blocks per game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, nicknamed the “Greek Freak” averages 22.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. He is the only player to be in the top 20 in the league in all statistical categories, and in a normal year would be an MVP candidate. He won’t even crack the top five though. Jabari Parker averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game before a knee injury sidelined him for the season in February.  Khris Middleton averages 14.7 points, 4.2rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. Greg Monroe averages 11.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Malcolm Brogdon averages 10.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Michael Beasley averages 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Tony Snell, Matthew Dellavedova, Mirza Teletovic, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Terry will also get some minutes in the rotation.

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Toronto is outscoring teams 107-103 this season. The Raptors are  in the top ten in both categories this season. Toronto is shooting 46.4% from the field and 36.3% from three point range. The Raptors make 79.6% of their free throws and are #8 in that category. Opponents are shooting 44.9% from the field and 35.4% from three point range. The Raptors are #6 in field goal defense. Toronto averages 43.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.1 per game. The Raptors are #6 in rebounds allowed. Toronto averages 18.5 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 4.9 blocks per game.

Guard DeMar DeRozan averages 27.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. He is probable with an illness. Guard Kyle Lowry averages 22.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Forward Serge Ibaka, acquired in a midseason trade with the Orlando Magic, averages 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Center Jonas Valanciunas averages 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Terrance Ross averages 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. DeMarre Carroll, Luis Scola, Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker and Delon Wright will also get some minutes in the rotation.

Milwaukee is 5-1 ATS in Saturday games, after a double digit loss, and against Atlantic Division teams, 5-2 after a straight up loss, 2-5 overall, 3-9 in first round games, 1-4 after allowing 100 points or more and against teams with winning records. The under is 8-2 in this series recently including 4-1 in Toronto.

Toronto is 9-2 ATS on two days rest, 5-2 against Central Division teams, 7-3 against teams with winning records, and 7-19-1 in first round games. The favorite is 20-8-1 ATS in this series recently. The Raptors are 5-1 ATS against the Bucks recently and 5-2-1 in Toronto against Milwaukee.

Toronto finished with the same record as Cleveland, but no one outside of Canada takes them seriously as a title contender. This series will have the non-weekend games almost entirely on NBA TV, where they show the least attractive match-ups usually. That is a shame because this series features three of the most exciting players in the league in Antetokounmpo, DeRozan and Lowry. Toronto simply has more talent and I think they win in six games. It wouldn’t surprise me though if Milwaukee were to steal a game on the road, as Toronto usually starts out slowly in the playoffs.

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