Bucks vs. Raptors Odds, Pick, Prediction: Toronto Has Value at Home (January 4)

Bucks vs. Raptors Odds, Pick, Prediction: Toronto Has Value at Home (January 4) article feature image

Mike Stobe/Getty Images. Pictured: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors.

  • The Toronto Raptors host the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in a meeting of two Eastern Conference contenders.
  • Neither team has been playing particularly well of late, however, and Milwaukee is coming in on the second night of a back-to-back.
  • Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.

Bucks vs. Raptors Odds

Bucks Odds+3.5
Raptors Odds-3.5
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

Wednesday night’s ESPN opener will be a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, with the Milwaukee Bucks facing off against the Raptors in Toronto.

The Bucks will be without star forward Khris Middleton who remains out with a knee injury and has been crucial to their offense, while veteran big man Otto Porter Jr. will be out for Toronto — a key component of the Raptors’ second unit.

Can Milwaukee get their offense going enough to change the narrative, or will the Raptors continue their head-to-head dominance? Let's dive into the Bucks vs. Raptors odds to see where we can find value in a pick.

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Milwaukee's Offense Continues to Struggle in Halfcourt

The Bucks have played relatively well considering they’ve been Middleton has played just five games this season. However, they’ve had a rough go of things in the second half of December, going just 1-5 both straight up and against the spread since Dec. 21.

Last night against the Washington Wizards, Jrue Holiday played in his first game since Christmas while Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a one-game absence and scored a career-high 55 points. Regardless of injuries to more frequent contributors, one obvious area in which the Bucks are truly missing Middleton, is in their halfcourt offense.

According to Cleaning the Glass, the Bucks rank 23rd in Points Per Play in the halfcourt at just 93.9, only the Memphis Grizzlies are worse among teams with a winning record. Lucky for Milwaukee, the Raptors are only 22nd in halfcourt defense (98.0) and could benefit from their lack of stopping power on that end of the floor.

If the Bucks win and cover tonight, the offense will likely not be the reason as they’ve struggled to score all season and Milwaukee’s defense matches up nicely with the Raptors.

Toronto likes to get out on the fastbreak and run, but Milwaukee can keep up defensively. The Raptors are the most efficient transition offense in the league at 139.9 Points Per Play, however the Bucks are elite at defending in transition as well, giving up just 114.8 Points Per Play — also first in the league.

However, one potential issue that could arise is the Bucks’ inability to prevent fastbreaks, even though they’re elite at defending them. The Raptors have the second-highest number of their possessions start with a transition play (17.9%), but the Bucks allow the sixth-most of any team in the league (16.2%).

Raptors Trying to Stabilize Their Lineups

The Raptors have also had their share of ups and downs this season; as it currently stands, they’ve seen more downs than ups.

Part of that instability has been a result of injuries. Spotrac shows that the Raptors have had their players miss the seventh-most games due to injury this season at 107 total cumulative games — just behind the Bucks at 109.

The most notable has been from Pascal Siakam, who missed most of November with a groin injury that caused him to sit out 10 games.

Before Siakam went down, the Raptors looked promising in a small sample size of 10 games at 6-4 and 8-2 against the spread. They also boasted the third-best Adjusted Net Rating in basketball (+8.8), according to Dunks and Threes.

Toronto experienced an unsurprising decline without their All-NBA forward, falling to +2.1 in Adjusted Net Rating (eighth) before Siakam’s came back to action on Nov. 28. However, since Siakam’s return, The Raptors have continued to fall even further down the ranks. They currently sit at 16th in Adjusted Net Rating (+0.4).

Their continued struggles since Siakam’s return can be chalked up to a few things like a lack of depth and diminished point guard play from previous seasons, but one primary issue is a lack of lineup continuity as a result of the aforementioned injuries — a difficult storm to weather when it comes to eking out regular season wins.

While Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has an affinity for tinkering with lineups, injuries have played a bigger factor in the Toronto’s lack of continuity. Their most used lineup has played just 265 possessions this season, behind only the Lakers (159), the Thunder (201), and the Pelicans (232).

Unfortunately for the Raptors, their best lineup — which is also their second-most-used at 140 possessions — does not include starting point guard Fred VanVleet, who has seen a noticeable decline this season.

Aside from the 2019-20 season in which the Raptors were playing their home games in Tampa, Florida, Vanvleet has had an Expected Wins total of +8 or better in every year of his career, according to Cleaning the Glass. This season, that figure is down to -2.

Bucks-Raptors Pick

Play close attention to the injury report for this one. Antetokounmpo missed the Bucks' game on New Year's Day with a sore knee then played 36 minutes and carried a heavy load in a big scoring night. While the injury report isn't out for this game yet, it would not be surprising to see the Greek Freak on the fence here.

I lean to the under here although both teams have been trending towards the over lately. That said, the under is 8-2 in their last 10 meetings.

Until Milwaukee’s offense gets back Middleton, Toronto should be able to do enough to stop them, and as mentioned, Milwaukee is well equipped to defend the Raptors in transition. I'll likely add a play on the total if I get a number I like, so follow me in the Action Network App.

Instead I'll look to the Raptors at home here. Despite a good defensive matchup for Milwaukee I don’t trust them on the road and on a back-to-back.

Toronto owns the recent historical matchup (7-3 straight up and against the spread) and have been playing a little better lately (3-3 straight up and against the spread). I think this could be a letdown spot for Milwaukee with a big rest disadvantage. I bet this at +2 when it opened and the line has moved as far as -4 for the Raptors, so shop around for the best line.

Pick: Raptors -3.5

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