The Eastern Conference leaders collide at the Scotiabank Arena on Thursday night as the top ranked Milwaukee Bucks visit the 2nd place Toronto Raptors.
Following their 115-105 win over the Detroit Pistons last Tuesday, the Milwaukee Bucks improved to 13-0 SU in their next immediate game after a defeat to remain as the only team in the league that hasn’t lost back to back games this season. The Bucks have won seven out of their last eight games to maintain a one-half game lead over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a true freak on the court this season, averaging 26.5 points, 12.6 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Khris Middleton is providing scoring help with 17.3 points while making 2.4 three pointers per game. Eric Bledsoe is contributing 15.8 points and 5.5 assists per game.
The Bucks are second only to the Golden State Warriors in team scoring at 117.2 points per game. Milwaukee is the #1 rebounding team in the league with 48.8 boards per contest. They are also ranked 5th in passing at 26.3 assists per game and 7th in scoring defense at 107.6 points per game allowed.
The Toronto Raptors have marched to the top of the Eastern Conference behind their new main man Kawhi Leonard. The former Defensive Player of the Year winner has made huge impact for the Raptors not just on defense but on offense as well. Leonard is having his best offensive season ever and his current streak of 22 consecutive 20-point games is just one behind Vince Carter’s franchise record set in 2001.
Leonard is averaging 27.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game to lead Toronto. Serge Ibaka is also having a strong season with 16.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. Pascal Siakam has been a revelation with 15.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game while Kyle Lowry is averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 assists per game.
The Raptors are the 7th ranked scoring team in the NBA at 114.1 points per game. Toronto is 15th in the league in passing at 24.4 assists per game and they are also 17th off the glass with 45.0 rebounds per contest. The Raptors have the league’s 10th best scoring defense at 108.7 points per game allowed.
The Bucks are 8-2 SU in their last 10 games played. Milwaukee is 5-2 SU in their last seven games played on the road. The Raptors are 7-3 SU in their last 10 games played. Toronto is 5-0 SU in their last five home games. Head to head, the Raptors are 6-4 SU in their last 10 games against the Bucks.
These are the current Top 2 teams in the Eastern Conference and they are battling out tooth and nail for the top spot. The Bucks have a one-half game lead over the Raptors as of Tuesday and the Raptors would love to get the Top spot back at the expense of the Bucks. It won’t be easy though as the Bucks have lost just thrice in their last dozen games. However one of those losses was a 116-123 defeat to the Raptors in Milwaukee. Milwaukee leads the season series though at 2-1 and have the chance to win their first season series against Toronto since 2013.
Milwaukee may still be without Malcolm Brogdon who is out with a bruised sternum. Brogdon is listed as probable for Thursday. Toronto is still without big man Jonas Valanciunas but Toronto has gotten key reserve OG Anunoby back after an absence due to personal reasons.
Toronto’s had three days rest since their last game and will certainly enjoy playing at home after going 1-2 SU in their recent three-game road swing. The Raptors have not lost at the Scotiabank Arena since December 9 when they lost to, well, the Bucks. Since that defeat, Toronto has racked up 10 straight wins at their home floor. The Bucks are just 3-2 SU in their last three road games and they are playing their third straight game away from home. I fancy Kawhi and the Raptors making a statement in this game. I’m picking the Toronto Raptors to beat the Milwaukee Bucks on 1/31/19.
Milwaukee is 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 games played. The Bucks are 4-2-1 ATS in their last seven games played away from home. Toronto is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games played. The Raptors are 3-2 ATS in five home games over that period. Head to head, the Bucks are 3-1 ATS in their last four games versus the Raptors.
Milwaukee is 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games when their opponent scores more than 100 points in their previous game, 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games when they themselves score more than 100 points per game and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games overall. Toronto is 4-1 ATS against the Central Division, 15-15-1 ATS in their last 21 home games against opponents with a road winning percentage of over .600 and 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games. The Bucks have been solid on the road at 11-10-2 ATS in 23 road games played this season but the Raptors have been better at home, especially against the elite teams. Prediction: Raptors -2.5
The under is 7-3 in the last 10 games played by the Bucks. Milwaukee has seen the total go under in four out of their last seven road games. The under is also 4-1 in Toronto’s last five home games played. Head to head, the over is 6-4 in the last 10 games between these two teams.
Despite the trends pointing to the under, the over is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these two teams and these are two Top 10 offensive teams this season with the Bucks at #2 and the Raptors at #7 in team scoring. The Raptors have also scored at least 119 points in four out of their last five games played. As for the Bucks, we know how explosive their offense has been this season. Sure, both teams have equally impressive defenses but I think both offenses are too good to be slowed down here. This has got to be a shootout between the top two teams in the East. Prediction: Over 229.5
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