Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM
G6 - Bucks at Raptors
Playoff Results | Conference Final Odds | Game 6 Expert Picks
Golden State is waiting in the wings to see where it is traveling for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night. We were destined for a Warriors/Bucks NBA Finals after Milwaukee grabbed the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against Toronto. However, the Raptors have rebounded to not only climb back into the series, but sit one victory away from their first ever Eastern Conference championship.
After the Bucks captured the first two games at Fiserv Forum, the Raptors needed to stave off Milwaukee in double-overtime of Game 3 just to avoid a 3-0 hole. Following an 18-point rout in Game 4 to even up the series, all of the sudden the Eastern Conference Finals turned into a best-of-three series for the right to end Golden State’s championship run.
Entering Thursday’s contest back in Milwaukee, the last 10 teams tied at 2-2 in the playoffs heading home won 10 consecutive Game 5’s, including a 5-0 mark in 2019. Milwaukee jumped out to a commanding 18-4 advantage in Game 5, as the Bucks have not lost three straight games all season. However, the Raptors rallied back to grab a 38-34 lead in the second quarter before Milwaukee settled for a 49-46 halftime edge.
Milwaukee built a 10-point third quarter lead, but Toronto sliced the deficit to 75-72 heading into the final 12 minutes. The Raptors ripped off 10 consecutive points after trailing 81-79, including eight points from star forward Kawhi Leonard, who finished with 35 points. Toronto held off Milwaukee, 105-99 to hold the Bucks below 100 points for the first time in the series, while the Raptors cashed as 7 ½-point underdogs.
The question after Game 2 was can Leonard’s teammates step up and help carry the scoring load. In Game 4, guard Kyle Lowry responded with 25 points, while Norman Powell (18) and Serge Ibaka (17) each contributed solid numbers off the bench. Another efficient game was put up by Fred VanVleet, who knocked down a trio of three-pointers for 13 points in Game 4, but the former Wichita State standout outdid himself with a 21-point performance in Game 5, including hitting seven shots from downtown.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has put a rough Game 3 (12 points on 5-of-16 shooting) behind him with 24 points in Game 4 and 25 points in Game 5. But, Antetokounmpo failed to reach double-digit rebounds for the first time in the series by grabbing only eight boards in Game 5. Khris Middleton struggled from the floor for the Bucks with only six points on 2-of-9 shooting after posting 30 points in Game 4.
Milwaukee hoisted plenty of three-point attempts in the first two wins (44 in Game 1, 41 in Game 2), but those numbers have dropped recently. The Bucks put up 44 attempts in the Game 3 double-overtime loss, as 40 of those shots came in regulation, while Mike Budenholzer’s team tried 35 three-pointers in Game 4 and 31 in Game 5. The 10 makes in Game 5 were the fewest in the series for Milwaukee, who hit at least 15 three-pointers in three of the four wins in the Boston series.
After watching the ‘over’ cash in three of the first four games in this series, the ‘under’ connected easily in Game 5 as the pair combined for 204 points, which was the lowest production between them through five contests. The total for Game 6 opened as high as 214 on Thursday and the number has dropped to as low as 211 ½ as of Friday.
Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts on Saturday’s total.
He explained, “The ‘total’ pendulum continues to swing back and forth in this series and bettors have already shown their hand for Saturday with a barrage of ‘under’ wagers. Based on what we’ve seen recently from Milwaukee’s offense in this series, you can certainly see why bettors are buying the low side. The Bucks are shooting 42.8 percent from the field and only 30.3 percent from the 3-point land against the Raptors, both well below their season averages (47.3%, 35%). Another factor that played into Game 5’s loss was the free throw battle. Toronto took 31 attempts and made 25, while Milwaukee only earned 18 trips to the stripe and it connected on 13. The Bucks have feasted at the free throw line this season, averaging 23.9 attempts and the number was a tad higher on the road (24.2). If Milwaukee isn’t connecting from distance and it’s not earning freebies, then another Toronto-Under ticket seems likely.”
Even though we’ve seen some solid trends come to an end in this year’s playoffs, like the Bucks incredible record off losses, David believes there are two angles that could have you riding Milwaukee’s offense on Saturday and possibly the ‘over’ in Game 6 too.
“Thursday's 99-point effort in Game 5 was just the seventh time this season that Milwaukee was held under 100 points. Not surprisingly, they went 1-6 in those games and that includes their Game 1 loss (112-90) to Boston in the second round. In the seven games following the low production, the Bucks averaged 116.8 PPG but that number was assisted with a 140-point effort. Defensively, they were more impressive during this span as they only surrendered 104.2 PPG in the same seven games. This Bucks squad can drop crooked numbers on anybody and catching a Team Total of 105 ½ makes me want to go ‘over’ in this elimination spot,” he said.
David added, “As I mentioned before, trends aren’t always your friends but it should be noted that we’ve had five Game 6’s in this year’s playoffs. We saw an average combined score of 226.6 in those games, which helped the ‘over’ easily go 5-0.”
VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia checks in on what has changed for Toronto, “The Raptors have seen their bench go from struggling as the weak link in the 76ers series through the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals to being the reason for their resurgence. With VanVleet and Powell finding the range and Ibaka providing steady play on both ends behind Marc Gasol, head coach Nick Nurse’s rotation has found the right balance and actually swung Game 5 after the starters got off to a slow start.”
“Although all looks lost after their first three-game losing streak of 2019, it’s worth pointing out that the Bucks matched the Warriors with the league’s top road record and dominated games in Detroit and Boston in previous rounds. I expect the team that showed up and fought until double-overtime in Game 3 to show up instead of the overwhelmed version that last took the floor there on Tuesday. Surviving the first quarter will be essential, but I think the Bucks will win the third quarter and would look into a wager on that, likely getting a half-point. I believe we’ll get a game that will come down to the final minutes,” Mejia notes.
The last time the Bucks posted four consecutive non-covers came in late November, as each ATS loss came in the favorite role. Milwaukee has compiled an 8-2 ATS record as a road underdog this season, including a 2-1 ATS mark in the postseason with the lone loss coming in Game 3 to Toronto. Saturday marks the first time in Raptors’ franchise history that they can close out a playoff series in Game 6 at home.
Milwaukee opened this series as a -300 favorite (Bet $100 to win $33) and it's now listed as 2/1 underdog.
Toronto is -240 to advance to the NBA Finals and bettors can wager on the Exact Game Odds:
6 Games Raptors Win -135
7 Games Bucks Win +200
7 Games Raptors Win +450
If necessary, Game 7 will take place on Monday from the Fiserv Forum.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.