Game 4 Pick: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors
Milwaukee Bucks (70-24 SU, 57-33-4 ATS) vs. Toronto Raptors (67-30 SU, 45-52 ATS)
When: Tuesday, May 21st, 2019 – 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario
By: Matt Lowry, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIL -2 / TOR +2 (MyBookie Sportsbook)
Total: O/U 216
Last Time Out: Raptors won game three 118-112. Bucks lead the series 2-1.
Eastern Conference Finals Heating Up
In what was looking like a quick four-game series between these two teams took a sharp turn when the Raptors were able to claw their way to a double overtime win. I still have some questions about whether the Raptors can consistently handle this Bucks team, but for the moment Toronto has gained a ton of momentum with another must win game coming up. That said, my initial lean is still on the Bucks for this game four matchup.
Game three was played this past Sunday and the Bucks let us down as small underdog. Game four will be played after just one day of rest. Looking at each team’s record in this situation, we see that the Bucks clearly hold an edge when they receive one day to recuperate. More specifically, the Bucks are 42-12 straight up and 36-17-1 against the spread. The Raptors are 40-20 straight up and 27-33 against the spread in the same scenario.
Injuries to Watch
Kawhi is dealing with a left leg injury but is listed as probable for game four. This injury should not have any effect on the game but still needs to be mentioned because we are talking about Kawhi Leonard, who is clearly the best player for Toronto.
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Which Giannis Will Show Up?
Giannis was clearly rattled in game three and it showed as he had his lowest scoring outing in this years’ playoffs. One positive was he controlled the boards, grabbing 23 rebounds on the night but 12 points was just not good enough. Despite a lackluster scoring performance from the Bucks’ star player, Milwaukee still showed an amazing effort to keep this game close. This is the area where I believe the Bucks need to continue to play well if they are going to take a 3-1 series lead.
Again, it is unlikely that Giannis will not have a major impact in game four, so I fully expect a bounce back game. The bench production however will be the reason why the Bucks can win this game on the road. Looking at game three, the bench provided 54 points. This was 48.2% of their scoring. Led by George Hill, with 24 points and Malcolm Brogdon, with 20 points, it made up for the poor play of Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. Of course, I do not think these bench guys will each score 20+, but if they provide 12-15 points, the Bucks will have the opportunity to set up an elimination game.
Can the Raptors’ Role Players Keep It Up?
To no surprise, Kawhi Leonard had another incredible performance in game three to keep his team in the series. Leonard is now averaging 32 points per game so far in this years’ playoffs and there is no reason to think his production will not continue. The real question to ask yourselves is, “Who will step up behind Kawhi?”
Once again, I want to look at the production that Pascal Siakam is providing. He scored 25 in the game three win which made up for his poor performances in the first two games. Siakam is now averaging 19.8 points per game in this years’ playoffs and is vital to the Raptors chances to come back in this series. If trends hold, Siakam is in for another big game because he seems to play better on his home floor. Even still, Siakam is not the most consistent scorer, and will need to have a repeat performance of game three if the Raptors are going to stand a chance.
Taking out Leonard and Siakam, the next guy I want to mention is Kyle Lowry. Besides game one where Lowry had 30 points, he has been lackluster this series. Scoring just 11 points, (his total in game three) is not acceptable given the talent he possesses. I look for Lowry to step up and be more of a leader for the Raptors’ offense this time around. Especially with distributing the ball. Lowry had 5 assists in the game on Sunday so look for him to improve in this category in what may be the most important game of the series.
While the Raptors were able to win in game three, I was not impressed since it took them double overtime to close things out. This of course was a game where three of the Bucks main scorers played poorly on the offensive end and still the Raptors were barely able to put them away. That said, my pick for this game is the Milwaukee Bucks. I like Giannis and Middleton to bounce back in a huge way and lead Milwaukee to a commanding 3-1 lead.
Free NBA Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -2