The Milwaukee Bucks have had a disappointing start to the season at just 16-11, but they still somehow find themselves in the second seed in the Eastern Conference right now, and will look to strengthen their position with a win against the 12-15 Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, who have been an even bigger disappointment during this campaign. Toronto has always played Milwaukee harder than most teams, however, so an upset is far from out of the question.
Free Picks: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors
Raptors Look To Backup Reputation As Giannis Stoppers (Season Betting Record: 35-35)
The Bucks have been the team to beat in the Eastern Conference over the past couple of seasons, winning 116 regular season games as their superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has racked up MVPs and Defensive Player of the Year awards. The Raptors have always seemed to have a little something extra for the Greek Freak and his compadres, though, going 5-3 against the spread over the past eight meetings.
Interestingly, when Giannis and Raptors longtime point guard Kyle Lowry both play in this matchup, Toronto has emerged victorious in 14 of 21 regular season meetings (Raps are 8-4 in the playoff scenario). Another strike going against the Bucks is the fact that they are without their big offseason acquisition, Jrue Holiday. Holiday is out indefinitely after reportedly contracting the COVID-19 virus and has missed the past four games because of it, a stretch during which the Bucks have won just one game.
Their most recent display came against the doormats of the Western Conference in a 114-109 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, which was Milwaukee’s third straight loss. After a brutal 2-8 start the Raptors have righted the ship and are currently sitting in the eighth spot in the East after a 10-7 run since then. We like the Raptors to cover their +5.5 point spread at -111 NBA odds even considering the absences of OG Anunoby and Yuta Watanabe for Toronto.
Both of these teams have built up reputations as tough defensive teams over the past couple of years, with Toronto finishing ninth in points allowed per game in 2019 and first in 2020 and Milwaukee fielding the 11th best D in 2019 and the eighth best in 2020 by that metric. Despite both teams playing much worse on defense this season (Toronto is 16th, Milwaukee 19th), they’ve gotten a ton of super low totals, which has led to the Bucks hitting the over 62 percent of the time (t-fifth in the NBA) and the Raps hitting it at a 59 percent rate (sixth).
With defensive stalwarts out for both teams in Holiday for the Bucks and Anunoby for the Raptors, we’re expecting a high-scoring game. Eight of Toronto’s last nine games have gone over the total, and the last seven times they’ve hit the road the total has gone over. Milwaukee has also gone over the total in three of four games without Holiday. The over on this matchup’s 233.5 point total at -115 NBA odds should be one of the best bets for today.
Our third and final NBA pick concerns the Gree Freak himself. Antetokounmpo has been finding his footing lately after a rocky start to this campaign, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to all of a sudden figure out how to decipher Nick Nurse’s patented ‘Giannis Wall’. Since Nurse took over the Raptors at the start of the 2018-2019 season, Antetokounmpo has managed just 23.4 points per game in five meetings.
It goes back even further than just Nurse’s tenure, however. In 33 total games played between Antetokounmpo and Lowry, the Greek Freak has averaged just 19.9 points and if you consider only the past 15 regular season meetings since Giannis has been a regular starter, he’s still only putting up 21.9 points per meeting. There are only three other NBA teams against which Antetokounmpo has scored at a lower rate in his career. We’d expect Nurse to keep a lid on the Greek Freak and hold him under his 31.5 points prop at -115 NBA odds.
- Toronto is 5-3 ATS in the last 8 meetings
- Milwaukee has hit the over in 62 percent of their games this season, 5th in the NBA
- Giannis Antetokounmpoo has averaged 18.3 points per game against Toronto in his career
- Toronto’s last 7 straight road games have gone over the total
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The Los Angeles Clippers will renew hostilities with the Dallas Mavericks, who they dispatched in the first round of last season’s playoffs.
The Denver Nuggets and the league’s presumptive NBA MVP will look to get off to a strong start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1.
The Golden State Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game, which will determine the Western Conference’s eighth seed.
The Washington Wizards will host the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night with the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference on the line.
Alex is an alumnus of Ryerson University's RTA Sport Media program, a contributing NHL, NBA, and MLB writer in the BetPicks.ca team. He has been writing on sports, betting, and fantasy contests for several years, including pitstops as an NFL Editor for theScore and as one of the lead NBA news writers for fantasy sports site FantasyPros. As a lifelong athlete, bettor, and sports fan, Alex is uniquely qualified to help you reach the sports betting success that you've always dreamed of and your wife never believed you could achieve.