The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors appear to be on a collision course. They are the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the East respectively, and each has exceeded expectations this season after their meeting in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019. Much has changed since that playoff series; Toronto no longer has Kawhi Leonard, which doesn’t seem to be much of an issue so far, and Milwaukee has found a way to become an even bigger juggernaut behind another MVP season from Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two East heavyweights meet up Tuesday night in Toronto, with narratives at stake.
Milwaukee is coming off a wild win over Washington on Monday night, where they withstood 55 points from Bradley Beal in a 137-134 overtime victory. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 40 points and Antetokounmpo contributed 22 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out. It was not one of Giannis’s best games, as he turned it over 8 times and was stifled at times by Rui Hachimura. It will be difficult for the Bucks to match their intensity as they’ll be on the second night of a back-to-back following an exhausting overtime game.
Following a decent 25-14 start to the season, Toronto has exploded towards a 17-1 record in their last 18 games, including a 15 game winning streak. The Raptors are led by rising star Pascal Siakam, who has averaged 23.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this season. Kyle Lowry has also chipped in a very solid season, averaging 19.4 points and 7.7 assists. Lowry scored 36 points when the teams first met this season in early November.
This is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. The Bucks won the first meeting 115-105 in Milwaukee.
MIL: Bledsoe, Matthews, Middleton, G. Antetokounmpo, B. Lopez
TOR: Lowry, Van Vleet, Anunoby, Siakam, Ibaka
Injuries: Brook Lopez is probable for the Bucks with back soreness. Marc Gasol (hamstring) will not suit up for Toronto.
The spread: MIL -1
Time and TV: 6:30 PM CT on TNT
Prediction: If this were not the second night of a back-to-back, I would have the Bucks winning by 10 or so. However, the Raptors have an extra day of rest and have home-court advantage. I think Toronto narrowly wins this one, and a slew of narratives about the Bucks will follow. Raptors 110, Bucks 106