Welcome to the Sunday, May 19 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for Sunday’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: 7-1 (.875)
Moneyline: 3-0 (.1000)
Over/Under: 2-4 (.333)
Conference finals series results:
- May 15: Bucks 108, Raptors 100 (Fiserv Forum)
- May 17: Bucks 125, Raptors 103 (Fiserv Forum)
5/19/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 8-6 postseason) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22 reg. season, 10-1 postseason)
DraftKings Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -2.5 (o/u: 219.5)
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -2.5 (o/u: 219.5)
888 Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -2.5 (o/u: 219.5)
BetStars Sportsbook Odds: Raptors -2.5 (o/u: 220.0)
In Friday’s Game 2, the Bucks looked hell-bent on not being caught sleeping on their home floor. And there would be no ambush for the Raptors akin to Game 1’s. They’d put a good scare into Milwaukee for three quarters during that contest. The Bucks helped ensure there wouldn’t be a repeat by jumping out to a 35-21 first-quarter lead. Far from satisfied, they tacked on another 11 points to their advantage by halftime.
Even when Toronto found its stride during the third quarter and compiled an impressive 39 points, the game never seemed remotely close. That surge was the high point of the night for the Raptors. The Bucks reasserted their dominance over the final 12 minutes for the comfortable win. One of the more sobering aspects of the 22-point loss for Toronto? Milwaukee accomplished the convincing win with Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez shooting a combined 4-for-17.
Meanwhile, a troubling pattern of offensive imbalance persisted for the Raptors. Once again, Kawhi Leonard significantly outpaced the rest of the team in scoring with 31 points. Kyle Lowry was a very distant second with 15 points. Plus, he saw a significant downturn in his efficiency after draining 66.7 percent of his attempts in Game 1. Pascal Siakam, who’s normally been a very reliable offensive component to Leonard, fouled out after 26 minutes with only eight points on his ledger. And Marc Gasol turned in the most disappointing performance of the Raps’ starting five. He managed a meager two points on a 1-for-9 tally from the field.
Another disconcerting sight for Toronto has to be its inability to slow down the Bucks’ second unit. Milwaukee is enjoying much more offensive balance than the Raptors thanks to an impressively deep bench that saw three players — George Hill, Malcolm Brogdon, and Ersan Ilyasova — hit double digits in the scoring column in Game 2. Milwaukee’s reserves were responsible for 54 points overall. The fact that head coach Mike Budenholzer had the luxury of keeping Brogdon on the bench for a second straight game to open the series is an excellent example of the wealth of talent the Bucks’ head man has at his disposal.
On the Raptors’ end of things, it’s clear they can’t consistently get the better of the Bucks’ suffocating defense, at least not anything close to all four quarters. Factoring in the first two games of the series, Toronto has averaged just 104.3 points per game in six contests overall (regular season and postseason) against Milwaukee. What’s more, their second-highest single-game scoring tally in that sample (109 points), came in a game where Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play.
And speaking of the Greek Freak, Toronto’s inability to slow him down continues to prove very costly. Antetokounmpo generated a 30-point, 17-rebound double-double in Game 2, and he played an integral role in getting Siakam into foul trouble. That followed a 24-point, 14-rebound tally in Game 1. Those numbers aren’t outliers by any stretch. Giannis also averaged 27.0 points (on 58.5 percent shooting, including 41.7 percent from distance), 15.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks in three regular-season games against the Raptors.
By The Numbers
The Bucks are 57-32-4 (NBA-best 64.0 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 10-1 (NBA-best 90.9 percent) this postseason. That includes a 28-15-2 mark (NBA-best 65.1 percent) versus the number as a road team and an 8-2 tally (NBA-best 80.0 percent) as a road underdog in particular. The Bucks are also 35-16-1 (NBA-best 68.6 percent) in games they’ve played with one day of rest this season and postseason. Milwaukee is also 38-27-4 (NBA-best 58.5 percent) against the spread in games following a win and 42-18-3 (NBA-best 70.0 percent) versus the number in conference games this season and postseason.
The Raptors are 43-52-1 (45.2 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 6-8 (42.9 percent) this postseason. That includes a 22-26 (45.8 percent) mark versus the number as a home favorite. Toronto is also 25-33-1 (43.1 percent) versus the number in games they’ve played with one day of rest this season and postseason.
The Final Word
The oddsmakers are clearly placing significant faith in Toronto’s home-court advantage. However, the first two games of the series have told a grim tale for the Raptors. I fully expect them to be much more competitive north of the border. Yet their home floor ultimately can’t do enough to make up for how tough a matchup Milwaukee has proven to be. I see the Bucks covering the small spread, and I’m only slightly less confident in them doing enough to take a 3-0 series lead.
The Pick: Bucks +2.5
The Lean: Bucks moneyline