Jason’s 2018-19 NBA picks record through May 14:
30-29-1 ATS, 0-6 ML (minus-12.63 units), 38-25-1 Totals
Toronto (8-4 SU, 6-6 ATS) at Milwaukee (8-1 SU and ATS)
Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, TNT
Free NBA Pick: Over
Recommended Sportsbook: Pinnacle
If you’ve watched the Toronto Raptors over the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs, you’ve already seen more bricks than Frank Lloyd Wright. The Raptors have shot 32.7 percent from downtown, putting them 13th out of the 16 teams who made the postseason, and they’ve driven the ‘under’ to a 9-3 record after a dozen games. Playoff basketball, my friends.
So here we are recommending the ‘over’ for Game 1 between the Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. We’ve been trying to capture some “regression to the mean’ with our NBA picks this past month, expecting more of those long-range bombs to go in for Toronto. Results have been… mixed. But we’re going back to the ‘over’ for Wednesday’s Eastern Conference Finals opener. Join us, if you have the intestinal fortitude.
Don’t Bring Me Down, Raps
Make it a small bet, though. The first three times we tried this ‘over’ play with the Raptors, they failed us – once against the Orlando Magic, and twice against the Philadelphia 76ers. But they finally got the job done versus Philly in Game 5, scoring at will and winning 125-89 (Over 212.5). Then they went ‘over’ again in Game 6 before Sunday’s 92-90 brickfest (Under 209.5).
Maybe things will flow a little more smoothly at the Forum. The Bucks have the ‘over’ at 5-4 during these playoffs, shooting 35.4 percent (No. 5 overall) from downtown while running the third-fastest pace in the league at 104.7 possessions per game. Granted, Milwaukee (97.1 points allowed per 100 possessions) and Toronto (97.5) also have the best defensive efficiency ratings by a wide margin. And early bettors are hammering the ‘under’ at press time, driving Wednesday’s total down from 218 to 217 on the NBA odds board with 95 percent consensus. Why are we doing this to ourselves again?
Open For Business
We blame the computers. Jeff Sagarin’s projections at The USA Today have Game 1 adding up to 222.81 points, which gives us plenty of room to go ‘over’ 217 and expect some profit in the long run – if these projections are any good. Things happen in the playoffs that just aren’t allowed to happen during the regular season. Violent things. Unsporting things.
We also blame the regression monsters. Here’s how the teams Toronto and Milwaukee faced in the opening two rounds shot on open threes (closest defender 4-6 away):
- Orlando: 17.8 percent
- Philadelphia: 32.8
- Detroit Pistons: 37.0
- Boston Celtics: 30.8
Defense is easy when your opponents are missing open shots. Oh, and the Raptors themselves are shooting 25.6 percent in this situation (Milwaukee’s at 38.1 percent). More of those shots are bound to connect eventually – let’s hope events are in our favor this Wednesday, and may the sphere be with you.