The Toronto Raptors have been undervalued for quite some time, but how will the NBA odds treat Toronto during their first-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks?
The Toronto Raptors knew before Wednesday’s regular-season finale that they’d face the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Toronto is locked into the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference; the Bucks will be the No. 6 seed, and they’ll be the visiting team for the series opener. However, as we go to press, nobody knows when that game will take place – probably early in the afternoon on NBA-TV, because Raptors and Bucks.
We also don’t have any series prices yet on the NBA odds board. But let’s start looking at this matchup anyway; while Raptors will probably be favored by a fair amount (update: Raptors are -350), the Bucks have been en fuego since the All-Star break, so there might be some value on Milwaukee (+270) after all.
Two months ago, the Bucks (42-40 SU, 36-46 ATS) looked like they were toast. Jabari Parker (+0.3 BPM) tore his ACL on February 8, depriving the Bucks of their starting power forward and one of their future cornerstones. Then a funny thing happened: Milwaukee started winning. They’re 20-10 SU and 16-14 ATS since Parker went down.
This isn’t any slight on Parker. The Bucks also got swingman Khris Middleton (–0.5 BPM) back in the lineup the very same day Parker was injured, after Middleton had missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury. Middleton isn’t as good as Parker, but the difference isn’t that big at this stage of their careers, and the Bucks need Middleton’s superior defense more at this moment.
Milwaukee also has the best player in this series: swingman Giannis Antetokounmpo (+7.6 BPM), one of the very best players in the league. And head coach Jason Kidd did a number on the Raps three years ago as head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. There are lots to like about Toronto (51-31 SU, 45-36-1 ATS), especially after the trades for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker, but let’s see if their series price comes out a little too chalky for our NBA picks.