Can the Toronto Raptors make this a series? So far, the Milwaukee Bucks have looked like the clearly better team in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee took a 2-0 lead playing on its home floor, winning the two games by a combined 30 points.
Game 3 is essentially a must-win contest for the Raptors as the series moves to Toronto today (7pm ET Sunday on ESPN). They would be down 3-0 to the Bucks and no team in NBA history has ever come back to win after trailing 3-0.
Will Milwaukee’s superior depth continue to shine through? Or will Toronto’s vaunted top four of Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol finally wipe out that depth advantage? We’ll take a look at some storylines you should be tracking today before giving our Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors Game 3 predictions.
Will Norman Powell Stay Confident in a Larger Role?
The Raptors’ bench has struggled all throughout the playoffs. Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet have both been mostly bad in key roles. Norman Powell has played less than both, but he has been decent at best.
Powell did, however, have his best game of the playoffs against the Bucks in Game 2. He was very active in his 25 minutes and ended with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists on 6-of-9 shooting. That was his second-highest minute total of the postseason, but there’s a good chance he’ll be asked to play even more in Game 3 by Raptors head coach Nick Nurse. He may even start ahead of Danny Green, whose shooting has been off for several games.
The Raptors’ depth has been outclassed by the Bucks’ depth in this series. Toronto superstar Kawhi Leonard looks tired. Let’s see if Powell can continue to play well in what should be more minutes.
Can the Bucks Keep the Raptors in Foul Trouble?
A big reason Milwaukee was able to get and keep its big lead in Game 2 was keeping the Raptors in foul trouble. For the Raptors, Pascal Siakam fouled out in just 26 minutes, while Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell all had four fouls.
The frequent fouling not only led to lots of free throws for Milwaukee (35, to be exact), but it messed up the Raptors’ substitution patterns and further exposed their shallow bench. Milwaukee used its excellent length and athleticism to crash the boards and penetrate the lane all night long.
The Raptors would probably appreciate it if the refs are a bit more forgiving in Game 3. However, if Milwaukee keeps forcing the issue with constant drives and more energetic play on the boards than Toronto, the officials won’t have much choice but to keep calling fouls on Toronto.
Will Toronto’s Big Men Play Like Big Men?
The Raptors’ three key big men of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka combined for the following stat line in Game 2: 18 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, one block, six turnovers and 12 fouls on 9-of-27 shooting from the field and 0-2 shooting from the free-throw line.
They struggled to clean the glass effectively (at least without fouling), while they missed a bunch of quality shots close to the basket and didn’t protect the rim well. Milwaukee’s bigs of Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic and Ersan Ilyasova vastly outplayed their counterparts despite being the weaker group of players on paper. In particular, the Raptors’ bigs are more athletic and stronger and should be coming closer to winning the battle on the glass against the Bucks’ bigs.
Toronto’s key players on the interior need to toughen up for Game 3 and start to play with more passion and discipline, especially near the basket.
Our Preview’s Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors Predictions & Betting Picks for Game 3
The Raptors will be significantly more motivated in Game 3 on their home floor. They still might have the best player in the series, depending on your exact feelings about Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
However, I think the Bucks have proven to be enough better than the Raptors that they should win or at least lose by a very close margin. Milwaukee’s top players aren’t having to do as much or play as many minutes, which will only help them stay fresh as this series progresses.
Neither team has really caught fire from three-point range yet in this series. I think at least one of the squads will finally do so today, which means this contest could be somewhat high-scoring. So this is how our Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors picks and predictions for Game 3 shape up:
- The major American-friendly oddsmakers are predicting that Toronto has a very solid chance to make this series 2-1 by making the squad a favorite by 2 points on the spread. I think your best decision, however, is betting on the Bucks +2pts @ -108 with BetOnline.
- This Game 3 preview expects better shooting from these teams. Toronto’s offense might wake up a bit at home but Milwaukee’s depth of scoring options will keep the Bucks scoring a lot too. The final one of our picks is to bet the over 219.5 total points @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.