NBA Odds & Picks for Raptors vs. Bucks: Expect an Uptempo Game From Both Offenses
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Pascal Siakam #43 of the Toronto Raptors is congratulated by Fred VanVleet #23.
Raptors vs. Bucks Odds
|Moneyline||+215 / -265|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
After suffering their fourth loss in a row, at the hands of the Toronto Raptors, the Milwaukee Bucks hosts the Raps on Thursday for the second time in three nights. Remember the last time the Bucks lost four in a row? The 2019 Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual NBA champion Raptors.
Though this will serve as TNT’s appetizer to the Nets vs Lakers entrée, this matchup is still appointment television. While the Bucks will be highly motivated to avoid a disastrous five-game losing streak, I’m looking for value elsewhere in this game.
Despite an abysmal start to the season, Tuesday night’s victory moved Toronto into the Eastern Conference playoff picture. As sweet as the win at Fiserv Forum must have tasted sweet, Kyle Lowry’s injury likely dampened the mood. a bit. According to Action Labs, Lowry is listed as questionable after he suffered a left ankle injury.
While Fred VanVleet touted the team’s ‘next man up’ mentality in his postgame comments, filling Lowry’s void for a quarter and a half is a lot different than playing a full game without the six-time All Star. The game may be more watchable if Lowry can’t take time on every other possession to complain to officials, but his presence on the floor makes the Raptors tougher and more competitive.
With Lowry off the floor, the Raptors allow 4.9 points per 100 possessions more than when he’s playing. On offense, the Raptors’ Turnover Percentage increases by three percentage points without Lowry, per Cleaning the Glass. Of note, the Raptors are 1.8 points per 100 possessions better on offense when Lowry doesn’t play.
As I mentioned, the Raps have looked like their old selves recently. In the month of February, they’re 5-3 and rank sixth in Offensive Rating (120.1). The other end of the floor has not seen the same improvement though, as they rank 18th in Defensive Rating (114.7) this month per NBA Advanced Stats.
So, let’s piece this together. The Raptors are killing it offensively and score more when Lowry doesn’t play. They are also slacking defensively, and may be without their heart and soul against an offensive juggernaut. That feels like a recipe for a high-scoring game.
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The Bucks do not look like title contenders without Jrue Holiday in the lineup. They are 1-4 during his absence and have not won a fourth quarter during this losing streak.
The team’s splits when Holiday is off the floor this season are concerning to say least. Milwaukee is 6.8 points per 100 possessions worse on defense and its Opponent’s Offensive Rebounding Percentage increases by 3.2 percentage points when he sits. Cleaning the Glass lists Holiday’s efficiency differential at eight points per 100 possessions — the Bucks lost by nine on Tuesday.
Diving deeper into the skid, their Defensive Rating has dropped precipitously. They now rank 13th on the season (110.7), and are even worse during this recent stretch, ranking 23rd (118.7) over their last five outings.
Lost in Holiday’s absence is the recent underwhelming performance of likely All Star, Khris Middleton. Yes, Toronto has wings like OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam to throw at him, but that’s no excuse for only taking eight shots on a night when he was essential to grabbing the win.
Over Milwaukee’s four-game slide, nine players have appeared in each game. Middleton has the lowest plus/minus at -11.7. The next closest player is more than four points better.
I ultimately believe this is just a blip on the radar for Middleton, but it is one of the many reasons for the Bucks’ struggles. I can’t back Milwaukee, but with his expected offensive improvement and assuming Holiday is out once again, I sense an especially high scoring affair.
The total for Tuesday night’s Raptors v Bucks game closed between 235.5 and 236.5. The game ended at 237 due to two Spicy P free throws with under 30 seconds remaining.
Despite that close call, I’m taking the over here.
Since Feb. 1, Milwaukee and Toronto play with the third- and sixth-highest Pace, respectively. Tuesday’s total was only a discussion because of the 22-point fourth quarter performance from the Bucks. I do not foresee that happening again.
These teams are clearly comfortable playing against one another and are willing to push the pace. I suspect the Bucks will come out with a sense of urgency, correlating to fast breaks and quick ball movement.
Assuming Holiday is held out again and Lowry sits, I love this play. If Lowry does suit up, I’m lowering my threshold slightly.
Pick: Over 233.5 (up to 235 if Lowry plays and 237 if Lowry sits)