Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks Pick
Toronto Raptors (28-12 SU, 17-23 ATS) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (27-10 SU, 21-14-2 ATS)
When: Saturday, January 5th, 2019 – 8:30 PM ET
Where: Fiserv Forum – Milwaukee, WI
TV: FSN / NBA TV / SPORTSNET
By: Keith Franks, NBA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: TOR +6.5 / MIL -6.5
Power Rankings: Milwaukee +8
Takeaways From Toronto and Milwaukee’s Most Recent Games
The Raptors come in off a rout sustained at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs when they were mangled 125-107 on Thursday failing to come in under a low-hanging 3.5 points. The road loss marks Toronto’s fifth in its previous six away outings.
Unlike their counterparts, the Bucks enter into this game in pristine form as they have won five straight outings dating back December 22nd when they lost on the road to the Miami Heat. Overall, the Bucks are seeking their tenth win in their last eleven outings. Most recently, the Bucks mopped up the Atlanta Hawks on Friday by a score of 144-112 to produce their fifth consecutive cover as a 13.5-point favorite.
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The Raptors and Bucks have already met twice this season and the Bucks have won both games to extend a winning streak against Toronto to three games. The two sides last met in December in the Great White North where Milwaukee defeated Toronto 104-99 to pull an upset as a 4.5-point underdog.
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is listed as doubtful for this game as he continues to battle a back injury that requires him to receive anti-inflammatory injections. Toronto will also be without Center Jonas Valanciunas who remains sidelined until February.
Toronto Will Play This One With A Chip On Their Shoulder
In the 2017-18 season, the Raptors earned the number one seed in the 2018 playoffs. A win here against the present top team in the East puts them half of a game ahead of the Deer with three games in hand. So needless to say, Toronto has a motivational ploy to work in its favor here to help it overcome its recent road woes. Plus, this outfit will be bit a chippy as it is sick and tired of the Deer galloping all over of them of late. To get it done the Raptors will look to employ a balanced approach as they own the eighth-ranked scoring offense (113 points per game) while also producing the tenth-ranked scoring defense which gives up only 107.9 points per contest. Toronto owns an edge in the turnover department and also gets more mileage out of their bench as it produces 35.5 points per game compared to Milwaukee’s 32.2 bench points per fixture. These two advantages in particular can help Toronto stay close in a hostile environment and get points when superstar forward Giannis Antetokuonmpo is off the floor. He normally plays around 33 minutes per game.
Milwaukee Will Look To Continue To Do What They Do Best
The Bucks are the best team in the NBA in four distinct categories. The Bucks are owners of the best scoring offense in the league as they average an incredulous 117.7 points per game. Milwaukee is also the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA as well, curating 49.8 boards per game. Defensively, no one reduces field goal efficiency of opponents like Milwaukee as their counterparts average 43.1% from the field and also struggle mightily from the charity stripe as Milwaukee opponents hit only 73.7 of their attempts. This places Milwaukee at the top of the list in opponent free throw percentage. The Deer will try to take advantage of these edges along with home court to sweep the regular season series against Toronto.
Milwaukee are the benefactors of several trends. First off, Milwaukee is 4-1 ATS in its previous five meetings against the Raptors. Combining this with their present win streak in this series, the narratives will compel many to hold fire on heading the other way with Toronto. Furthermore, the Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games against a team with a winning home record.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Toronto +6
According to sharp early action and sources at MyBookie, Milwaukee is extremely overvalued here and should actually be taking back a significant portion of lumber instead of laying a considerable amount to the visitors. This in itself warrants a closer look at Toronto, considering the fact that Milwaukee is 18-3 SU at home this season. However, two of Milwaukee’s three losses at home this season came against teams they were expected to win big against in Memphis on November 14th (-9.5) and perhaps their most shocking result a 116-114 loss against the Phoenix Suns on November 23rd as a 13.5-point favorite. Comparatively, Toronto is a step up here even with their injury concerns as they have a defensive weapon in forward Kawhi Leonard that can shut down the offensive heartbeat of this Bucks team, forward Giannis Antetokuonmpo. He averages 26 points, 6.2 assists and, 12.5 boards per contest. He hits 58% of his shots and is #1 in clutch time FG%. Any less production from the Greek Freak can hinder Milwaukee’s prospects drastically since these two teams are virtually a wash in both field goal percentage (Milwaukee’s 47.8% to Toronto – 47.3%) and scoring defense (Milwaukee 107.8 points per game to Toronto’s 107.7 points per contest). This game could very well be settled by a possession and that is harrowing considering Giannis is prone for an off-game. However, thanks to Milwaukee’s stellar form of late combined with their supremacy in this series, the Bucks are spotting more points here than are required and we get the chance to take advantage.