Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM

G3 - Bucks at Raptors

Playoff Results | Conference Final Odds | Conference Final Predictions

The most dominating team from a pointspread standpoint in the playoffs is the top-seeded Bucks, who owns a 10-1 ATS record. Milwaukee travels to Toronto for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals seeking a 3-0 series advantage at Scotiabank Arena this evening.

After the Bucks rallied for a narrow cover in the series opener, Milwaukee jumped out to a commanding 25-point halftime lead in Thursday’s Game 2 at Fiserv Forum. In spite of a 39-point third quarter for Toronto, the Raptors never really threatened in a 125-103 setback as 6 ½-point underdogs to fall into a 2-0 series hole.

Milwaukee’s offense topped the 30+ point mark in a quarter only once in Game 1, but scored 30 or more in three separate quarters in Game 2, including a 35-point output in the opening 12 minutes. MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 30 points and 17 rebounds, while three Bucks came off the bench to produce double-figure scoring, paced by 17 points from Eryan Ilyasova. For the second straight game, the Bucks weren’t great from three-point range by shooting 13-of-41, but knocked down 26 free throws and won third Game 2 of a series this postseason by more than 20 points.

Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 31 points for Toronto, although he connected on just one three-pointer in four attempts. Kyle Lowry was terrific in the series opener with 30 points, but the Raptors’ guard continued his inconsistent playoff ways by scoring 15 points in Game 2, including a 2-of-9 effort from downtown. The only other Raptor to score in double-figures was Norman Powell with 14 off the bench as Pascal Siakam scored fewer than 10 points for only the second time in the playoffs.

The Raptors actually shot better in Game 2 than Game 1 from the floor (42% compared to 37%), but Toronto managed only 39 points in the opening half. Somehow, Toronto equaled their first half output in the third quarter, as the Raptors drilled five three-pointers during that 39-point spurt after halftime. The Raptors were able to trim a 28-point deficit in the third down to 13, but that’s as close as they got to fall into their first 2-0 hole on the road in the playoffs since the 2017 second round against Cleveland.

Toronto started the postseason with a solid 4-2 ATS record, but the Atlantic division champions have gone backwards in that department recently by covering in just two of the past eight games. The Raptors return north of the border trying to improve on a 4-3 ATS mark at Scotiabank Arena in the playoffs, while not allowing over 100 points at home in the past six postseason contests.

After watching the two teams combine for 228 points in Game 2, the oddsmakers opened the Game 3 total at 220 ½ and that’s the highest number posted in the first three games of this series. Chris David of weighs in on the adjustment and provides his lean for Sunday’s total.

He said, “I’m not buying the move up by the oddsmakers and I believe we’re in for a grinder on Sunday even though Milwaukee has the potential to explode offensively on any given night. It’s crazy to realize that the Bucks are averaging 116.5 PPG in this series and the 3-point shooting has been off by their standards. Plus, that’s against a very solid Raptors defense that was allowing 96.9 PPG in the playoffs. What goes unnoticed about Milwaukee is its defense, which is only surrendering 101.4 PPG in the 14 postseason games. The worst efforts from that unit came in Game 1 of the second round, allowing 112 to Boston and the opener in this series when Toronto scored 100 points. Both those results came off layoffs and the Bucks looked flat and rusty. In every other playoff matchup on one or two days of rest, the defense has been very solid.”

“I’m assuming Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has to know by now that he can’t win a shootout, so I would expect him to slow down the game at home and muck it up. That approach has worked with Toronto so far, with the club allowing 90.4 PPG in five playoff wins at home. The Bucks came away with two road wins in this year’s regular season meetings between the pair from Canada but they only averaged 104.5 PPG. That was enough to get past Toronto, who struggled with an average of 95.5 PPG and not surprisingly the ‘under’ connected in both of those games. I’m expecting a similar outcome here and along with the game ‘under’ on Sunday, I believe a look at the Bucks Team Total Under (108 ½) is in play too,” David added.

Toronto has watched the ‘under’ go 5-2 at home in the playoffs while Milwaukee is 3-1 to the ‘over’ as a visitor in the postseason. NBA expert Tony Mejia provides his thoughts headed into Game 3, “The Raptors have to flush Game 2 and concentrate on executing at home, where they’ve shown all season that they can beat anybody. While a lot went wrong in Milwaukee, Toronto was able to keep the Bucks from imposing their will in the third quarter, which is where the East’s top seed had gained the most separation through the first two rounds of this postseason.”

“It lost the third in Game 1 by a single point and made a run coming out of the locker room on Friday night, ultimately winning the quarter 39-31. Nurse can also take solace in Powell and Fred VanVleet and demonstrating a pulse since his team’s bench had been virtually non-existent for weeks now. At home, facing a must-win situation, this could be a spot where the Raps finally see it all come together exactly one week following the best moment in franchise history to keep Leonard’s Game 7 heroics against the 76ers from becoming a token consolation prize. Riding Toronto in the first and third quarters seems like the play here,” Mejia notes.

The Bucks are listed as a 2 ½-point underdog heading into Game 3, as Milwaukee won in both instances as a ‘dog at Boston in the second round. Mike Budenholzer’s team own a solid 9-2 ATS mark when receiving points this season, while winning in both regular season matchups at Toronto, each as a ‘dog.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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