A new Eastern Conference champion will be crowned. Will it be the upstart Bucks or will Toronto finally ascend to the top after years of falling short.
<div><p>A great matchup for Eastern Conference supremacy, Toronto and Milwaukee feature 2 of the best players in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. These 2 players performances will probably dictate the outcome. Giannis is an athletic anomaly, a 7 fter with the speed and agility of an NBA PG. Kawhi is a former Finals MVP who knows what it takes to climb the mountaintop, and is arguably the games best defender as well as being a top notch scorer. His 4 bounce historic fallaway jumper is etched in NBA lore as a great playoff killshot, and now he tries to continue his journey to the NBA Finals.</p><p>Helping him along the way is emerging star Pascal Siakam, who is averaging 20 ppg and 7 rpg, and is a capable switch defender in the perimeter or in the paint. Kyle Lowry has had his role reduced, which might be good for Toronto as he has historically struggled with the extra pressure and physicality of the postseason. Marc Gasol has been a great pickup for the Raptors, although I would be worried if he has to match up with Giannis. I would hope he sticks with Lopez, but if the Bucks go small he might get played off the floor. How the Bucks attack Gasol and how the Raptors respond will be a huge key to this series. Danny Green has been a huge addition and his solid defense and 3 pt shooting is an asset the Raptors rely on. Serge Ibaka brings strength in the paint and might be forced to run the 5 if the Bucks go small. The Raptors should try and use Ibaka and Siakam on Giannis, but neither can stay in front of him so rotation to rim protection will be key. The Raptors have a great rotational scheme so it could be possible, but Giannis is as tough an assignment as you can draw. Boston had limited success by forming a "wall" and having everyone sag into the paint to stop Giannis drives to the rim, but once Milwaukee started punishing that strategy by hitting their 3's after the Giannis drive and dish, they had no response. If Toronto can keep Giannis out of the lane they can win, but that's a big if.</p><p>Milwaukee was the best statistical team in the NBA this year, with a very impressive defense. This will be tested by Kawhi as he will be an exhausting matchup for whoever the Bucks try to stop him with. If they choose Khris Middleton, it could lower his offensive output, but I think its worth it as so much of Toronto's offensive success hinges on Kawhi. Even with a tired Middleton, the Bucks still have Eric Bledsoe, Nikola Mirotic, and Brook Lopez to add to the offense. Malcolm Brogdon will be returning from injury and will be running with the 2nd unit, where he can provide an offensive lift to the bench unit. This will be a tough test for Milwaukee as I think Toronto is much more solid than Boston or Detroit, their two previous opponents. Toronto's ability to defend is much higher than Boston and if anyone can slow down the Bucks it's this fluid switching, fundamentally sound Toronto team. They will have to deny Giannis at the point of attack and defend the 3 pt line, which they are capable of doing. This should be a fantastic back and forth between 2 well constructed teams.</p><p>I am taking the underdog here. I like getting the experienced winner in Kawhi, and I think they defend well enough to slow down Milwaukee and keep games close. If they can stay in front of Giannis and force him to shoot jumpers and pass their path to victory is clear. With Kawhi able to get the crunch time buckets, Toronto has the advantage in close games. I expect the Raptors to be able to win the closer games while losing in blowout fashion. This price is way off as Toronto should be at 2.50. At 3.3 this is a no brainer to me, and I'll take Toronto to steal a game in Milwaukee en route to a series victory.</p><p><a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=4fd3c129-b898-4816-9a61-9f7e8f34295a&f=1" target="_blank" title="NBA Betting Odds"><em><b>Betting Tip: Toronto to win the series @3.30 at Unibet</b></em></a></p></div>