Raptors (+6.5) @ Bucks (216)
Pick: Bucks First Quarter -2
Pick: Bucks -6.5
I did just discuss in yesterday’s handicap how betting against phony results the next time out is usually smart. Portland competed pretty well with Golden State for three quarters on Tuesday and got blown out in the fourth, resulting in a 22-point Warriors win. Sure enough, it was Portland who had the lead most of Game 2 last night, only to let it slip away in the final minutes, but it didn’t slip far enough away for the Warriors to cover the 7.5.
So if I apply those same concepts to tonight’s Game 2 in the East, I’d be all over the Raptors catching 6.5, right? Not so fast.
While Milwaukee wasn’t covering the six it was laying in Game 1 until there were 28 seconds left, I think there’s a better chance that Wednesday was a missed opportunity for Toronto rather than a sign that this series is going to be that competitive from start to finish. So the phoniness of Wednesday in my opinion isn’t Toronto not covering, it’s Milwaukee’s play dropping a level most of the night. Granted, if it was going to happen, I guess off a week-long layoff in between the conference semifinals and conference finals would be the time. But that’s exactly why it was a missed opportunity for the Raptors. I think there’s a better chance we see the Bucks team that ran right through the Celtics tonight than a Toronto win.
You have to imagine a big point of emphasis for Mike Budenholzer will be a better start from his team after getting outscored 34-23 in the opening period on Wednesday. First quarters have actually been a problem for Milwaukee as Boston won four of the five first quarters against the Bucks in the last round. However, I picked Milwaukee in five games before this series started and I’m not shying away from that prediction now. For what it’s worth, the Bucks have been a much more worthwhile investment in the postseason as well. Milwaukee is 9-1 ATS in 10 playoff games versus Toronto’s 6-7 ATS playoff record. Usually in a short series you have some surefire victories in there for the team that advances and tonight should be one of those for the Bucks. They’ll start better and lead by at least three after one and win this game by double digits.