Toronto is back in a familiar place, making their first trip to the ECF since 2015. Their lineup is very different than it was last time, with the only starter still on the team being Kyle Lowry. He hopes to assist Kawhi in the task of taking them to their first-ever NBA Finals.
Milwaukee hasn’t tasted the NBA Finals in four decades, since their sixth year of existence, but are hoping that the Greek Freak can be the difference on a very impressive team this time around. Milwaukee is the only team left in the conference with tremendous roster depth, and it should give them a significant advantage.
The Milwaukee Bucks are -6 point favorites for Game 1 of the series. The over/under is set at 217.5. The moneyline for the contest is Toronto +195 and Milwaukee -227.
With OG Anunoby likely out for much of this series (per Nick Nurse), they remain tremendously thin. Norman Powell hasn’t been playing too much as the only small forward in their rotation. Jeremy Lin not getting any minutes has also been a surprise, and perhaps it’ll change in this series. They only used Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka off the bench in Game 7 against Philly, so we’ll see what Nick Nurse decides to do in this series. Milwaukee likes to go deep into their bench, whereas this team is starter-heavy.
Kawhi had a few days off after his 39-shot performance (second-most in a Game 7 ever), leading to 41 points and the buzzer-beater. He will need to be on his A-game, and Toronto is going to need him to outperform Giannis. He can’t create shots for his opponent as well, but if he ever senses a double team, all he has to do is find the open man.
Will this be the year that they finally make it back to the NBA Finals? They sure hope so. In their first year at Fiserv Forum, they have been very tough to beat on their home floor. And with Malcolm Brogdon back in the lineup, and well-rested too, this should have them at full strength. He had a tremendous regular season and was the missing piece of the puzzle at the beginning of the postseason. They impressively went 8-1 without him in the first nine games, but they don’t have to worry about that anymore.
This has been far-and-away Giannis’ best playoff performance, with stellar coach Mike Budenholzer making a huge difference. That has been the case for much of this season, with previous coaches not able to get the full potential of this team. Brook Lopez has been doing a very good job of holding down the fort at the center spot, while Eric Bledsoe has been much better in his second playoff run in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Takes Game 1
Make sure you bet MIL -6 here in Game 1! The Bucks are going to knock off the Raptors to get the series going on a high note for them. Giannis’ 35-point effort will carry them to the W.
Free Pick: MIL -6
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