Raptors @ Bucks April 20 Free Pick


It was a weekend away from televisions, computers and what 99 percent of humanity may refer to as “life” for me this weekend. Consequently, I only have box scores and columns to assess the first weekend of NBA Playoffs round one.

But I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and I find that sometimes ignorance to short term results helps see through whatever may be skewing the public’s opinion at the time. The line has moved more than four points Milwaukee’s way since Toronto opened up as a small road favorite.

Free Pick

So it looks like Toronto dropped a dud in game one. It must have had more to do with Lowry and DeRozan‘s three-point shooting (0-for-8 combined) because Serge Ibaka was good and Lowry went 13-for-14 from the line. Then again, no one shot particularly well for Toronto and a whole lot of guys didn’t, something that changed in game two.

Ibaka scored effectively again (4-for-7 from distance), the All-Stars in the backcourt shot 50 percent and no one on the bench was inefficient. But the Bucks stayed close by shooting the lights out from three-point land. All of Milwaukee’s starters hit a trey and Kris Middleton and Tony Snell went 7-for-9.

I wondered how Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker would manage the Raptors’ size down low, considering neither of them can really exploit bigger guys on the perimeter. But perhaps I underestimated their athletic ability on the boards. And it isn’t as if either Ibaka or Valanciunas can back either of them down on the block all night. They do both, however, have trouble staying in front of the best player of the floor, a man they call the Greek Freak.

So as we look toward game three in Milwaukee, the first question I have is whether the advantage the Bucks may or may not experience will be enough to compensate for what I can only expect will be a drop off in shooting. As the underdog playing its first home game in the middle of the series, the Bucks will almost certainly play harder and better than they did in Toronto.

The next question is how will Toronto shoot? If Milwaukee’s defense has that half extra step Thursday, maybe not very well – at least not like in game two. From the box scores it looks like Serge Ibaka has been a jump shooter, and a volume one at that. Those will will have to be going down against a team that looks like it knows it can give Toronto all that it can handle in the first round.

Free Pick: Bucks -1

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