Toronto (10-3 Under – Playoffs ) at Milwaukee (5-5 Totals – Playoffs)
Friday, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)
Free NBA Pick: Under
Best Line Offered: BetOnline
After seeing their total of 218 off by 10 points in the first contest of the East Finals, sportsbooks universally have adjusted their NBA odds on the total by two points to 216. Will that be the right move and if so, should the total actually be even lower? Let’s attempt to uncover an answer.
The Cliché Really Is True
In your adult life, you have been subjected to the notion countless time – Defense Win Championships. While like in anything in life there are exceptions, for the most part, that cliché rings true. Toronto and Milwaukee each have true superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are two of the top 5 players in the NBA and maybe even higher than that.
But over the years, the NBA has given us a lot of fantastic players, but ultimately, it’s still a team game. The Association is going through a phase that is all about spacing and three-point shooting, in the postseason, as usual, we have witnessed the defensive the intensity really pick up.
Players are attempting more steals, guarding their man a little closer and contesting more breakaway’s, realizing, forcing an errant shot is as important as making one.
To date, the Raptors are permitting only 96.9 PPG in the postseason, which is nearly 10 points less than season average, allowing playoff-worthy opponents to connect on only 41.1 percent. Little wonder they are 10-3 Under in the postseason.
Milwaukee plays at a somewhat faster clip than Toronto, but after being the top-ranked team in field goal percentage defense and in points per possession allowed, they are holding foes to 39.6% from the field, at 101.4 PPG, which is almost seven below their average. Yes, defense does lead to championships.
What To Expect On Total
Besides the emphasis on defense and possibly because of it, both teams’ shooting has been off. Granted, they are facing better competition in the postseason and coaching changes dramatically being able to focus on just one team at a time and always with rest.
Yet, the fact remains, the Raptors have shot under their season average of 47 percent in six of their last seven outings. Going against such a good quality defense like Milwaukee’s does not lend itself to as many open shots and because the Bucks also rebound so well, second chance points are harder to come by.
Though Giannis and the guys are averaging 116 PPG on the playoffs, they also have only gone by their typical shooting percentage of 47.4 percent once in their last seven tries. Toronto has solid rim protectors which takes away opportunities for the Bucks to score.
For NBA picks, while I don’t see a quite as low scoring affair as Game 1, I’ll grab the Under 216 and call for Milwaukee to win 111-103.