Welcome to the Tuesday, May 21 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for Tuesday’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: 7-2 (.778)
Moneyline: 3-1 (.750)
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)
- May 19: Raptors 118, Bucks 112 (2 OT) (Scotiabank Arena)
5/21/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Toronto Raptors (58-24 reg. season, 9-6 postseason) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (60-22 reg. season, 10-2 postseason)
In many respects, Sunday’s Game 3 between the Bucks and Raptors played out according to expectations. Toronto was much more competitive on its home floor. They came out of the gates with the requisite urgency of a team down 2-0 in the Eastern Finals. The Raptors took a 30-21 lead through the first 12 minutes. Then, Milwaukee predictably began to get into the flow of the game. They played a more competitive second, and even though they ultimately put just a two-point dent into their deficit by halftime, they seemed to be figuring things out.
The third quarter resembled the last five quarters that had unfolded in Milwaukee during the latter portion of Game 1 and all of Game 2. It was the visiting Bucks largely exerting their will on both ends of the floor. They put up 24 points while limiting Toronto to just 19 during the period. That set the stage perfectly for a highly competitive fourth. Milwaukee made repeated comebacks from as much as eight points down to eventually force overtime. Ultimately, the Raps were only able to pull away over the last 32.4 seconds of the second extra period.
On its home floor, it still took Toronto countless attempts to finally conquer the Bucks. The bad news? It only counts for one win, and 48 hours later, the Raps have to do it all over again. More bad news? Milwaukee pushed them to the limit with some atrocious shooting efforts across their first unit. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe went a combined 11-for-48 from the floor. To call that an outlier would be a massive understatement.
Then, fatigue could certainly play a role Tuesday. Not just circumstantial fatigue tied into the fact three members of the first unit played over 45 minutes, including two (Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam) over 50. We’re talking cumulative fatigue as well. As a reminder, the Raptors came into this series fresh off a seven-game slugfest against the Philadelphia 76ers in the semifinal round. Dating back to Game 1 of that series, Toronto played 10 games in 23 days through Sunday’s Game 3.
In comparison, the Bucks took the floor eight times through 22 days from Game 1 of their five-game semifinal-round set against the Celtics through Sunday’s contest. And that included a full week off between series. As the current series extends, Milwaukee’s ability to draw off rest reserves will play a pivotal role. That may manifest itself vividly in Tuesday’s Game 4. Toronto will undoubtedly be amped up for a second straight game. However, the second half should begin to tell a tale of the gulf in overall depth and energy level between the two clubs.
The most disconcerting news for the Raptors might be that their two best and consistent offensive players — Leonard and Siakam — are the ones that put in the biggest workload Sunday. And in Leonard’s case, we’re talking about some heavy wear and tear overall this postseason. Kawhi has now logged at least 40 minutes in four of the last five games. Those unfolded over a relatively modest span of 11 days. Leonard is undeniably an elite talent, but he too is human.
By The Numbers
The Bucks are 57-33-4 (NBA-best 63.3 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 10-2 (NBA-best 83.3 percent) this postseason. That includes a 28-16-2 mark (NBA-best 63.6 percent) versus the number as a road team and 20-13-2 (60.6 percent) as a road favorite specifically. The Bucks are 35-17-1 (NBA-best 67.3 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played with one day of rest this season and postseason. Then, Milwaukee is also 19-4 (NBA-best 82.6 percent) against the spread after a loss and 42-19-3 (NBA-best 68.9 percent) versus the number in conference games this season and postseason.
The Raptors are 44-52-1 (45.8 percent) overall against the spread this season, including 7-8 (46.7 percent) this postseason. That includes a 23-26 (46.9 percent) mark versus the number at home. Toronto is also 26-33-1 (44.1 percent) against the spread in games they’ve played with one day of rest this season and postseason.
The Final Word
It took 58 minutes, but the Raptors managed to squeak out a win against the Bucks. Still, Toronto gave Milwaukee its best shot and still needed a pair of extra periods to finally pull away. The game naturally took its toll physically on both clubs. However, Milwaukee was by far the more rested team coming into the series. That becomes an increasingly significant factor as the series wears on. Plus, beating the Bucks two times in a row is a nearly insurmountable challenge. As such, I see the visitors not only taking a 3-1 series lead but covering a thin spread in the process.
The Pick: Bucks -2, Bucks moneyline