The Raptors are back in the Eastern Conference finals and this time they won’t be facing LeBron James. That’s the good news. The bad news is they’re still underdogs to the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
Toronto hopes the momentum of Kawhi Leonard’s miracle shot in Game 7 against the 76ers carries over into Game 1 against Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Eastern Conference Finals: NBA Playoffs Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Raptors are playing in third round of the playoffs for just the second time in their 24-year history in the NBA. That being said, they still aren’t playing great basketball. The Dinos are just 8-4 straight up and 6-6 against the spread in these playoffs.
They also lost three of four matchups against the Bucks during the regular season. Toronto backers will argue their club didn’t have Kawhi Leonard in all of those contests.
Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will have to do something about his team’s offence. The attack looked non-threatening for much of the series against Philadelphia with many Toronto players seeming unwilling to take open shots.
The club has seen its average points per game total drop from 114.4 in the regular season to 103.6 in the playoffs. Astute under bettors could have taken advantage of Toronto’s offensive woes. The Raps have played below the total in nine of their 12 postseason contests.
Milwaukee isn’t experiencing the same problem. The Bucks are an NBA-best 8-1 straight up and against the spread in the playoffs. Only the Golden State Warriors are averaging more points per game in the postseason than Milwaukee.
Sports Interaction lists the Bucks as -286 favourites to win the series with the Raptors priced as +195 underdogs. Still, about 68 percent of bettors are backing the Raptors as 6-point road underdogs in Game 1 while 57 percent expect the game to go over the 217.5-point total.
Raptor fans know what they’re getting from Leonard on a game-to-game basis. The team’s problem is finding a reliable secondary scorer to support Kawhi. Pascal Siakam has been fantastic all playoffs, but Kyle Lowry and Marc Gasol must be more aggressive at the offensive end.
Gasol attempted just eight shots in 45 minutes against the Sixers in Game 7, and Lowry shot just 23.1 percent on 3-point attempts in the last series.
The return of starting guard Malcolm Brogdon is a huge factor for the Bucks. The 2017 Rookie of the Year winner can shoot, dribble and defend point guards as well as wings. He was a +14 in 16 minutes played in Game 5 against the Celtics and finished the contest with 10 points.