by Liev Jackson
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Raptors: 1-1 (0-0 V)
Bucks: 1-1 (0-0 H)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Thursday, April 20, 2017
Where: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TV: NBATV, TSN, FSN Wisconsin
As Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan goes so goes the Toronto Raptors. This is of course is nothing new, but it remains a fact that when they both score at least 20 points in a game the team is 8-2 in the playoffs.
But what’s hidden between the lines of that statistic is that Tuesday night’s 106-100 win over the Bucks was the 33rd time playoff game for the Raptors during their combined era.
As such essentially two thirds of the time up till now the two of them have not been able to bring their best games to the floor on the same night. And that’s why Toronto tends to infuriate basketball observers and Raptors fans alike.
This year, their fourth season in this run of excellence should be better with all of the experience gained, but they’re batting .500 so far.
On Saturday the Bucks had all the answers and did not let Toronto get off the mat on the way to a comfortable 106-100 win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been the best player in the series, by a country mile and averaged 26PPG, 11.5 RPG and 5.0 APG over the first two games. He put up 24 points and 16 rebounds on Tuesday.
But on Tuesday Serge Ibaka showed why the Raptors got him at the trade deadline. He played monster defense against the Bucks athletic big men while putting up 16 points and seven rebounds.
Still the two teams were neck and neck all the way to the end, before Lowry’s layup with less than ten seconds to go sealed the win.
These are the first ever playoffs for Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton, but the two young veterans do not appear overmatched thus far. Monroe has been especially good averaging 16 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
The series shifts to Milwaukee for game three and if the first two games are any indication, this is proving to be the most entertaining and closely matched series of the first round.
The Bucks are one of the most malleable teams in the league and challenged Toronto to play small with them through the first two games. Now that Ibaka showed his ability to do so, one wonders what tactics coach Jason Kidd will employ to keep Toronto on its toes.
The Raptors have a more traditional roster construction, but they recognized that was a flaw which is why they added Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. Now we’ll see if their collective experience can come into play as an advantage with the stakes of the series on the rise.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks Eastern Conference Series Odds
Live Odds & Scores also our Free NBA Fantasy Picks
Milwaukee was a 106-100 loser in its last match on the road against the Raptors. They covered the +8-point spread as underdogs, while the total score of 206 sent OVER bettors to the payout window.
Toronto won its last outing, a 106-100 result against the Bucks on April 18. The Raptors failed to cover in that game as a -8-point favorite, while the 206 combined points took the game OVER the total.
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Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks Eastern Conference Series Odds & Trends
Toronto is 2-5-1 ATS in its last 8 games
Toronto is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
Toronto is 5-1-1 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
Milwaukee is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Milwaukee is 17-8 SU in its last 25 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Milwaukee's last 7 games
Toronto at Milwaukee Saturday, April 22
The Bottom Line: Milwaukee are -1.5 favorites, but it is time for that Raptors experience to make a difference while the Bucs try to put on a show for their home fans. The Pick: Raptors 104-95.
Liev Jackson NBA Playoffs Picks: Toronto +105 & 196½ Over at Mybookie
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demar derozan - giannis antetokounmpo - greg monroe - jason kidd - khris middleton - kyle lowry - milwaukee bucks - p.j. tucker - toronto raptors