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The Toronto Raptors are looking to close out the Eastern Conference Finals on their home floor on Saturday night.
Bucks hoping to force Game 7
The Bucks have seemingly let their strong grasp on the Eastern Conference as they have dropped each of the last three games that has seen them move to verge of playoff elimination heading into Game 6 on Saturday night. This has centered on the Bucks’ offense struggling to look like a shadow of the juggernaut that they are on that end of the floor. This was clearly the case in Game 5 with the notching just 99 points while shooting 32.3 percent from beyond the arc along with 45.2 percent from the floor while they were outshot from the free throw line with the Raptors holding the edge at 31-18 trips to the charity stripe. What this speaks to is that Toronto was more aggressive in the pivotal game on Thursday night stepping up the challenge. All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has been a major factor offensively with him putting up major performances as he’s averaging a double-double with 23.0 points and 14.0 rebo0unds while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor. Antetokounmpo has notched double-doubles in four out of the first five games in the series while posting more 20 points four times and shoot better than 50 percent on three occasions over that span.
The best from Giannis in Game 5:
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 24, 2019
What has been the difference in the last three games has been the lack of consistent production from the supporting cast around Antetokounmpo. It has seen veteran point guard Eric Bledsoe essentially disappearing in the series. Bledsoe had notched 20 points in Game 5, but prior to that, he has struggled to put together effective outings as he’s averaging 10.6 points on 29.1 percent from the floor and 13.1 percent from beyond the arc. He has notched double-figure scoring twice while shooting 30.0 percent or fewer from the floor four times in the series. Bledsoe’s lack of offensive production has been a large reason why the Bucks have fallen out of control of their NBA Finals hopes. The Bucks did have five players notch double-digit scoring in Game 5, but this saw them get outscored in the fourth quarter 33-24 that shifted things in the Raptors’ favor. Although this is the first time that they have lost three straight games this season, Milwaukee has the talent behind Antetokounmpo to get the job done to grab the second straight road win in the series to force a Game 7. However, will Bledsoe answer the bell or will Khris Middleton bounce back from a six-point outing in Game 6? If these two core pieces to the puzzle are able to step it up, there will be another game on Monday night.
Raptors have hit their stride eyeing NBA Finals berth
Despite falling into a 2-0 series deficit through the first two games of the series, the Raptors have responded in a major way winning each of the last three contests to move to the verge of reaching the NBA Finals. It has largely been accomplished behind the collective play of their core group led by the play of All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard, who is playing some of the best basketball of his career. Leonard has been arguably one of the most productive players in the playoffs and the biggest reason why the team is in position of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. Leonard has clearly shown that in the Eastern Conference Finals as he’s averaging 30.4 points per contest along with shooting 45.2 percent from the floor and 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. His play has placed the Raptors despite shooting 46.2 percent from the floor or lower in the last three games. Leonard has notched at least 30 points in four out of the first five games played in the series.
No screen. Whi's got this.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) May 24, 2019
However, it has been the strong collective play behind him that has made the difference as the core group has stepped it up in the process coming on the defensive end of the floor. The Raptors were quite inefficient shooting 36.9 percent from the floor and outscored 44-24 in the paint, but they have truly stepped it up defensively to limit the Bucks’ potent offense. This saw them limit the Bucks to 102 points or fewer in each of the last two contests. Their play defensively has been the difference as it has seen big man Marc Gasol make a major impact defensively as he has eight blocks in the last three games played. That said, the Raptors hopes to close out the series on their home floor on Sunday will come down to the supporting cast around Leonard stepping it up in the process. They need their veterans around him such as Pascal Siakam and Fred Van Vleet, who had 21 points off the bench in Game 5, to put forth strong efforts on their home floor. Leonard has more than shown to be a reliable leading offensive factor, it’s going to come down to whether the supporting talent around him is up for the challenge against a motivated Bucks team looking to force an all-or-nothing Game 7.
- Over is 4-1-1 in Raptors last six home games against a team with a winning road record.
- Over is 4-1 in Raptors last five home games against a team with a road winning % of greater than .600.
- Bucks are 21-6 ATS in their last 27 games following a straight up loss.
- Bucks are 19-7-1 ATS in their last 27 road games against a team with a winning home record.
- Bucks are 18-7 ATS in their last 25 games following an ATS loss.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Raptors seemingly have the all momentum in the series heading into Game 6 with a chance to close it out. However, the Bucks should answer the bell to force an all-or-nothing Game 7. It will need a strong all-around performance on the road, but it’s something that can be done on Saturday night with Antetokounmpo leading the way.
Prediction: Milwaukee +2
Full-Game Total Pick
Although these haven’t necessarily been high-scoring affair, these are two of the league’s best-scoring offenses. With plenty on the table for the contest, it should set things up for the both sides to put forth strong offensive outings in the potential closeout contest. Keep in mind, the over is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Toronto.
Prediction: Over 213