Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors: Predictions and Odds
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently sitting at second (2nd) in the Eastern Conference at 16-8 and 3.5 games back from the Toronto Raptors in first (1st) place. If it weren’t for the Raptors being on such a hot streak, the Bucks would likely be closer. Unfortunately inconsistency has been their calling card since their tremendous 7-0 start to the season.
From November 1st to December 7th the Milwaukee Bucks have gone 9-8. While the Bucks own impressive wins over the Toronto Raptors, Denver Nuggets, and Portland Trailblazers, they also own disappointing losses to the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns. While the Bucks schedule hasn’t been forgiving, five of seven losses coming to plus .500 competition isn’t a good sign when competing with the best of the best.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off of a disappointing overtime loss against the young Brooklyn Nets and currently own a record of 21-6 and first (1st) place in the Eastern Conference. After a three-game losing streak, the Toronto Raptors responded with an eight-game win streak. After alternating wins and losses in their last four games, the Toronto Raptors are surely motivated to get their next win.
More important to their record, the Toronto Raptors will have motivation to defeat their Eastern Conference rivals after being blown-out by fifteen points by the Bucks in late-October. It was a poor showing overall and Raptors star F Kawhi Leonard didn’t play. While it’s unlikely the Raptors will shoot 38% from the field and 20% from three again, the Raptors will surely come out with additional incentive against the Bucks defence.
Questions to Answer
Will the Toronto Raptors find consistency from range?
Was acquiring George Hill worth it for the Bucks?
We’re going to compare the Bucks and Raptors in an attempt to answer those questions.
The Milwaukee Bucks Trade
On December 7th, a multi-team trade was announced between the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Washington Wizards. The Milwaukee Bucks shipped out G Matthew Dellavedova, C John Henson, a first-round pick, and future second-round pick, and in return acquired G George Hill.
Objectively speaking the Bucks cleared out Dellavedova because he was overpaid and underperforming, while John Henson was often injured and no longer fits the Bucks system. In Hill the Bucks add yet another point guard to the roster; one who is both a veteran defender and a passable career three-point shooter (38%).
The Toronto Raptors Have Been Dreadful from Three
In their most recent loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Toronto Raptors shot a dreadful 31% from three. For a team that attempts 37.5% of their field goals from three, it’s unacceptable that the Raptors have shot a below average 34% from three for the season.
The Toronto Raptors’ most efficient three point shooters from the past year are all shooting less than 35% on the season. All of Lowry, Vanvleet, Anunoby, Ibaka, and Miles are yet to find their range and it has certainly hurt the Raptors in their recent losses.
Toronto Raptors Roster Notes
G Malachi Richardson dressed for the Raptors most recent game against the Brooklyn Nets, despite being listed day-to-day with a toe injury.
G/F Norman Powell is listed day-today after recovering from a shoulder injury since November 5th.
Milwaukee Bucks Roster Notes
F/C Jason Smith is questionable for the next game after sustaining a neck injury.
G Trevor Duval is day-to-day with an eye injury.
Giannis Antetokounmpo May Already be MVP
The Greek Freak is having the year of his career so far. Averaging 27 points per game, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists there is currently not a more dominant player in the NBA. His combination of size and skill is likely the most unique combination in NBA history.
If there were a way to stop Giannis it would be forcing him to the outside of the paint. Antetokounmpo is shooting 80% at the rim and has scored 183-228 field goals within two feet. The difference beyond the rim is stark, as the Greek Freak has only made 42 field goals beyond two feet all season. Stopping him from getting inside, well that’s easier said than done.
Kawhi Leonard May Have Something to Say About MVP
After sitting out all but nine games last season, it was easy for the world to forget how great Leonard is. Also putting up the most impressive numbers of his career, Leonard is averaging 26 points per game, 8.6 rebounds per game, and 2.9 assists while shooting 49% from the field and 36% from three.
Leonard has been the linchpin of the Toronto Raptors’ success this season. Not only has he been productive on the offensive end for the Raptors, Leonard has shown his elite defence in valuable matchups against the likes of Kevin Durant and Jimmy Butler. Not often will you see an NBA superstar who will take the most crucial shot and guard the most dangerous opponent, but Leonard will happily do both and likely succeed.
Head-to-Head: Serge Ibaka vs Brook Lopez
Brook Lopez has been an absolute revelation for the Bucks this year. Newly coined, Splash Mountain, Lopez has almost reversed his career skillset converting from a low-post scorer to an outside gunner. Lopez is shooting 37% from three this season on 155 attempts, almost three times the amount of attempts he has within the arc.
Serge Ibaka, Mafuzzy Chef, has been doing it differently this season and it’s not due to his apparent ingestion of crickets. Ibaka is averaging a career high in points (16.5 PPG) effective field goal percentage (59%), despite shooting a career low from three (28%). Ibaka’s change in scoring philosophy, playing outside-in, has tremendously benefitted his efficiency.
Ibaka has the speed and quickness the Raptors want switching on to Greek Freak on defence while also being able to get out and challenge Lopez at the arc. Meanwhile, Lopez has the low-post acumen to defend at the rim but may struggle with the quickness of the Raptors lineup. This match may depend on how these auxiliary pieces complements the Bucks and Raptors respective stars.
Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Predictions and Odds
The odds makers have the Toronto Raptors favoured over the Milwaukee Bucks by 5, with an over/under of 110.