Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Toronto Raptors (2)
Milwaukee versus Toronto has been the matchup we have been waiting for since the playoffs started. It’s the number one team against the number two team and two of the top players in the league going head to head with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard ready to lead their teams into battle. Both players have been special and have looked unstoppable in these playoffs.
The Bucks are coming into the series with a full week of rest after dispatching the Boston Celtics in five games, while the Raptors needed a Game 7 miracle at the hands of Leonard to get past the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Bucks won the regular season series 3-1, including the most recent game on January 31, a 105-92 victory, with Giannis leading the way with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Pascal Siakam had 28 points.
On paper, there are so many similarities between the Bucks and the Raptors. They jostled for the number one spot all season, and now they’ll be doing the same to see which team gets to make a trip to the NBA Finals.
Series TV Schedule
Game 1: Wed, May 15, Toronto at Milwaukee, 8:30 ET, TNT
Game 2: Fri, May 17, Toronto at Milwaukee, 8:30 ET, TNT
Game 3: Sun, May 19, Milwaukee at Toronto, 7 ET, TNT
Game 4: Tue, May 21, Milwaukee at Toronto, 8:30 ET, TNT
Games 5-7 TBD if necessary
Milwaukee Bucks Starting Lineup
*Brogdon is likely going to start the series coming off the bench, but he’s expected to eventually be the starter.
Toronto Raptors Starting Lineup
Key Player Matchups
PG: Eric Bledsoe vs. Kyle Lowry
Edge: Even. Bledsoe and Lowry can both be very inconsistent at times, and that’s shown in the playoffs. Whichever player shows up consistently in this series gives their team an even better shot at winning the series.
SG – Malcolm Brogdon/Sterling Brown vs, Danny Green
Edge Even. If it’s Green vs. Brown, Green certainly has the edge, but things get a little more interesting when Brogdon enters the game. Brogdon gives the Bucks another outside shooter who has done well against the Raptors this season, and he looked good scoring 10 points in 17 minutes during his Game 5 return. Green, aside from being a top three-point shooter, is also a pest on defense. He’s one of the best transition defenders in the league, is usually smart about his help defense and so the Raptors will look to him to contain some of the Bucks’ outside shooters.
SF – Khris Middleton vs. Kawhi Leonard
Edge Raptors. There’s a chance we’ll see some Leonard vs. Giannis matchups, but most of the team, Budenholzer will defend Kawhi with Middleton. Middleton has done well defending Leonard this season, but Kawhi is Kawhi and he’s seen all kinds of defenses in the playoffs so far and he’s been special regardless.
PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Pascal Siakam
Edge Bucks. Siakam is one of the rare fours that can probably stick with Giannis, but this will be his toughest matchup yet. If Siakam is able to stop Giannis’ penetration at times, he becomes a very good passer that can find open shooters or cutters.
C – Brook Lopez vs. Marc Gasol
Edge Even. Neither player has had a huge impact in the playoffs so far aside from one or two games. Gasol prefers to stay inside so look for Budenholzer to draw up some outside shooting opportunities for Lopez in order to draw Gasol away from the basket. Lopez has to stay out of foul trouble in order to make a difference though.
Coach: Mike Budenholzer vs. Nick Nurse
Edge Bucks. Nurse has had a great first year as the head coach of the Raptors, but Budenholzer is very experienced, serving as Gregg Popovich’s primary assistant until he got his first head coaching job. Budenholzer has coached in this type of situation before, where Nurse is obviously making his debut in the conference finals.
Bench: Edge Bucks. The Raptors’ bench seemed like a strength all season, but it hasn’t quite worked out in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bucks are very deep, which is one of their key strengths. George Hill and Pat Connaughton have played very well, and they’ll have Brogdon off the bench to start the series, and Nikola Mirotic gives them another sharpshooter.
Eric Bledsoe – Bledsoe averaged over 19 points per game in the Bucks’ first-round series win over the Detroit Pistons. It was a big part of why the Bucks were able to sweep. Against the Celtics, that average dropped to 13 per game. He wasn’t terrible, but he was inconsistent from game-to-game and the Bucks will need their third man to step up again.
Kyle Lowry – Like the Bucks, the Raptors need help from their third man, but they may need Lowry to step up even more. If not it’ll be another series of relying on crazy games from Leonard and Siakam to get them wins, and in what could wind up to be a tough seven-game series, that’s asking a lot of two players who are coming off a draining seven-game series.
Bucks in 6. This is the one everyone has been waiting on. Giannis vs. Kawhi should be quite a battle, but Milwaukee is the deeper team and they have more players that have been stepping up when it counts. They have several players they can count on for scoring, while Toronto sometimes lives and dies with Kawhi and Pascal Siakam.
For more predictions on this and every series, check out our 2019 NBA Conference Finals Playoff Prediction Roundup.
Odds & Line Movement Links: Vegas Odds (All NBA Games Today)
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