Eastern powers meet looking to send a message when the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors square off in Tampa Bay, temporarily home to the Raptors. Odds per our online sportsbook have the Raptors as slight favorites. Milwaukee is 10-6 while Toronto is 7-10.
Both Milwaukee and Toronto started the season slow and have yet to re-establish themselves as the elite of the East, especially with the emergence of Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Toronto is fighting for a playoff spot but has been playing better and still has a formidable defense that can shut down even the top offenses. Milwaukee has whooped on the mediocre teams but has lost against the elite.
Quick Look at Each Team
Bucks: Losing Contender Status?
After a slow start, Milwaukee is beginning to hit its stride going 7-3 in the last 10. Milwaukee is still top-three in the NBA in many offensive statistics including offensive rating (1st) and true shooting percent (TS%) (3rd). But its win and loss split have been telling.
Most of Milwaukee’s wins have come against sub-.500 teams like the Pistons (twice), Orlando, and Atlanta but most of their losses were against playoff-caliber teams. Namely, their last three losses came against the Lakers, Brooklyn, and Utah.
Milwaukee ranks second in the NBA in net rating (+9.0) because it blows out the Detroits and New Yorks of the world, but when faced against the steeper competition, the Bucks don’t deliver. In terms of NBA betting, Milwaukee has also failed to cover in nine of its 16 games.
There is no trouble in Bucks’ paradise, especially since Antetokounmpo put everyone at ease by re-signing for another five years. But the early signs are not promising and Milwaukee will need to start beating legitimate competition to re-establish itself as a title threat with the other rising powers in the East.
Raptors: Sharpening Their Claws
Speaking of slow starts, the Raptors are only beginning to find their footing. Changes were expected after Toronto lost several of its key players and moved to Tampa Bay. But starting 1-5 was still below expectations.
Since the Raptors have won five of their last seven games and have tightened up on defense posting a 106.5 defensive rating (8th) in the process. The emergence of F Stanley “The Stanimal” Johnson was a big part as the former Pistons’ lottery pick is posting a team-best +2.7 on the defensive box plus-minus.
Forward OG Anunoby has also begun to emerge as the star player he teased last season. In Toronto’s seven wins, he has posted a defensive rating of 99. His scoring remains steady though he still has ways to go to become the main scoring option.
Toronto is beginning to heat up and reassert itself as a contender in the loaded Eastern Conference. They held Dallas and Miami to double-digit scores in blowouts and showed the defensive virility they have been known for in their peak seasons. Now they get a significant step up against Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors Betting Preview: Raptors Will Chew Up Bucks
Toronto is a slight underdog here although I think this matchup should be a pick’em hence we’re going to go with the Raptors for our NBA betting pick. Both teams have yet to live up to their full potential this season as proven by their disappointing ATS records.
But between a prolific offense and a suffocating defense, I side with the latter even with Milwaukee having won two of their last three meetings against a deeper Raptors squad. The Bucks have consistently struggled against high-caliber teams.
This is a front-running team that either blows out also-rans or gets into a dogfight with a contender and loses. The Bucks will have the best player on the court in Antetokounmpo. But looking at his splits, he’s averaged 30.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in losses. More telling is his defensive rating dropped to 117 from his 102 in wins.
The Raptors will scrape and scratch their way through this game and push the Bucks to the brink. Based on these NBA odds, it’s better to just take them to complete the upset and win at dog money.