Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Date and Time: Saturday, April 22, 2017, 3 p.m. ET
Location: Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI
Raptors vs. Bucks TV Coverage: TNT
The play of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry was the subject of last postseason for Toronto and the two have been put front and center after three games in this series. The Raptors were able to advance to the East Final last year, where the backcourt pair did little in a six-game loss to the Cavaliers. They’ve done little this postseason and if they don’t get straightened out, the Raps could be out early.
Toronto is having a tough time dealing with Milwaukee’s youth and athleticism, but that could all be rectified by some solid play from the regular season-stellar backcourt. Lowry stunk in Game 1 scoring just four points on 2 of 11 shooting. On Thursday, DeRozan was the goat. Held without a made field goal, the NBA’s fifth leading scorer during the regular year scored all eight of his points from the free throw line. When Lowry and DeRozan are nearly outscored by Khris Middleton, the Raptors are bound to fail.
Following a seven-game losing streak to the Raptors, the Bucks have suddenly come alive by winning three of the last four meetings, and they could’ve stolen Game 2 in this series. Milwaukee has also been good to its backers over that recent span by going 4-0 ATS. They were a 2-point favorite in Game 3 and the outcome was never in doubt. The Bucks built a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter and never relinquished it. The bulge increased to as many as 34 in the second half.
And the Bucks did it without a major contribution from their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak scored 19 points and was one of six players in double figures. He made 7 of 10 shots and the Bucks hit 53 percent from the field and 52 percent from three-point range. The Bucks have proven they can compete now they must continue doing the things that got them a series lead. It’s easy for a young team to forget that and the playoff-tested Raptors aren’t folding.
The Bucks were a middle-of-the-road defensive team during the regular season, ranking 19th in defensive efficiency while giving up 103.6 points per game. But they’ve dialed up the pressure through the first three games of this series, turning Toronto into an uneasy group. The Bucks used their youth and athleticism to frustrate Toronto on Thursday night, holding the star-studded backcourt to a combined 21 points and limiting the Raps to 34 percent shooting and 27 percent from three-point range.
Through three postseason games, the Bucks own the second-best defensive rating in the NBA at 95.4 and have held the Raptors to fewer than 89 points per game. The length of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Thon Maker has made driving to the basket difficult. And it’s been just as tough trying to shoot over them. The Raptors have made less than 40 percent of their field goals and 34 percent of their three-pointers.
Raptors vs. Bucks Free Picks
It’s easy to get excited about the young Bucks, a team that plays unselfishly and has plenty of exciting players. But let’s not forget that they finished just two games above .500 during the regular season and didn’t qualify for the postseason until the final weeks of the regular year. But they have a team that matches up well with the Raptors and has given them fits in this series. Toronto’s more traditional lineup is having trouble with Milwaukee’s swing players and the Bucks have taken advantage.
But the Raptors are an experienced group and they sure aren’t going to let the outcome of Game 3 get them down. Toss that one out and move on, and that’s what the Raps are going to do. When Lowry and DeRozan play the way they can, like they did in Game 2, Toronto will flex its muscles. The Bucks were favored by 2-points on Thursday and easily covered. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and look for that number to increase slightly. And take the visitors with the points as the Raptors make the proper adjustments.
Raptors vs. Bucks ATS Pick: Grab the points with Toronto at BookMaker.eu
Raptors vs. Bucks Score Prediction: Raptors 107 – Bucks 99