Welcome to the Wednesday, May 15 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for Wednesday’s Raptors-Bucks playoff matchup I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
ATS Leans/Picks: 5-1 (.833)
Moneyline: 1-0 (.1000)
Over/Under: 2-4 (.333)
Regular-season series results:
- Oct. 29: Bucks 124, Raptors 109 (Fiserv Forum)
- Dec. 9: Bucks 104, Raptors 99 (Scotiabank Arena)
- Jan. 5: Raptors 123, Bucks 116 (Fiserv Forum)
- Jan. 31: Bucks 105, Raptors 92 (Scotiabank Arena)
5/15/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 8-4 postseason) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22 reg. season, 8-1 postseason)
The Raptors and Bucks come into their Conference Finals showdown with many similarities. Still, they’ve traveled different postseason roads. While Toronto just emerged from a drag-out seven-game brawl with the 76ers, Milwaukee has been lounging, comparatively speaking, since last Wednesday.
That’s the night they put a stake in the heart of the Boston Celtics’ season with a convincing 116-91 victory, their fourth in a row. In contrast, the Raptors lived on the edge literally until the final shot of their series. Kawhi Leonard‘s will-it-or-won’t-it desperation heave at the buzzer finally found the net after multiple bounces to avoid overtime and send the Raps to the ECF.
The difference in wear and tear on both clubs could come into play early in the series. Sure, the Bucks’ one week of rest could lead to some sluggishness and a slow start. However, chances are Milwaukee’s legs will boast more spring. That’s particularly true considering four-fifths of Toronto’s first unit logged the following workloads just 72 hours ago:
- Marc Gasol: 45 minutes
- Leonard: 43 minutes
- Kyle Lowry: 39 minutes
- Pascal Siakam: 38 minutes
Not to mention, each of those players (and in certain games, Danny Green as well) logged relatively heavy-to-burdensome minutes in the series. The two days of rest does help, but it pales in comparison to the almost seven full days the Bucks will have enjoyed by Wednesday night. And the extra time off has given Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon valuable time to further heal from his foot injury.
The Bucks also come into Game 1 with the confidence afforded them by both their regular-season record versus Toronto and their significant home-court advantage. They won the regular-season series against the Raptors, 3-1. That first victory, a 124-109 win Oct. 29, even came without Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Then, Milwaukee finished the regular season with an outstanding 27-14 home record. They’ve followed that up with a 4-1 mark at Fiserv Forum in the postseason. Of those 27 wins, only two came by less than Wednesday’s six-point spread. Another two were by exactly that margin. And all four playoff home victories have been by considerably more than six points.
The Bucks’ metrics on both ends of the floor at home are also elite. Milwaukee is scoring 119.2 points per home game this season and postseason. They’re also yielding 106.7 points per Fiserv contest, a top-10 figure. Shooting-wise, the Bucks have drained an impressive 48.0 percent of their attempts at home. In turn, they’re allowing an NBA-low 43.0 percent of attempts against them at home to find the net.
Finally, the individual numbers for some of the Bucks’ key players against the Raptors are certainly worth noting:
- Antetokounmpo: 27.0 points (on 58.5 percent shooting), 15.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.0 block (three games)
- Khris Middleton: 14.0 points (on 47.6 percent shooting, including 42.9 percent from three-point range), 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 steals (four games)
- Brogdon: 15.3 points (including 42.9 percent three-point shooting), 4.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists (four games)
The Bucks also did a reasonably good job of containing Leonard during the regular season. Kawhi averaged an impressive 22.0 points over three games against Milwaukee. However, he did it on mediocre 42.6 percent shooting, including 30.0 percent from behind the arc.
By The Numbers
The Raptors are 43-50-1 (46.2 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 6-6 (50.0 percent) this postseason. That includes a 21-24-1 (46.7 percent) mark versus the number as a road team. Toronto is also 9-13 (40.9 percent) versus the number in games they’ve played with two or three days of rest and 30-34 (46.9 percent) against the spread both in games following a win and in conference games this season and postseason.
The Bucks are 55-32-4 (NBA-best 63.2 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 8-1 (NBA-best 88.9 percent) this postseason. That includes a 27-17-2 mark (61.4 percent) versus the number as a home team and a 26-16-2 tally (61.9 percent) as a home favorite in particular. Milwaukee is also 36-27-4 (57.1 percent) against the spread in games following a win and 40-18-3 (NBA-best 69.0 percent) versus the number in conference games this season and postseason.
The Final Word
The Bucks ultimately disposed of the Celtics in five games during the semifinal round. However, they learned a valuable lesson in Game 1 when they were tripped up by Boston at Fiserv Forum. Milwaukee is now looking to ensure a much better start to the Conference Finals. The fact they’ll be much fresher than Toronto should make an impact in the latter stages of the contest. Given their tremendous home-court edge and the difference in rest between these squads, I see the Bucks ultimately pulling off the cover on their way to a victory.
The Picks: Bucks -6, Bucks moneyline