The Milwaukee Bucks are facing the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Both these teams have a superstar that seems unstoppable but only one of them will advance to the NBA Finals. Which team will it be?
Many people will not choose the Bucks because of their lack of experience. That is a really odd reason to go against a team. If the team hadn’t played great all year, didn’t have one of the best players in the league and didn’t play great defense, then maybe I would understand. However, this Bucks team checks all those categories and have beaten a playoff-experienced Boston Celtics in five games. They won the second round series the fastest and showed everyone that they are more than ready for the biggest of stages.
The Raptors have played great in the playoffs so far but they haven’t gotten the best production from their lineup. Kawhi Leonard is carrying the team every night and he will get tired. Toronto needs other players to step up or the Bucks will end this series fast. As good as Leonard is, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player on the court and he has a much better cast around him. Both teams play great defense which gives the Bucks an advantage because they have about six to seven players that can score at least 15 for them on any give given night.
Brook Lopez proved that point by scoring a team-high 29 points in the Game 1 victory. Yes, Lopez and his three-point shooting helped the Bucks win a game that they trailed for most of the game. If the Raptors crowd the middle to prevent Antetokounmpo from scoring, Lopez will be open every time. No other player broke 25 points for the Bucks yet they still won. I expect the Bucks to play better and have better production because a lot of players really under-performed and some adjustments should fix that.
That is why I have the Bucks winning this series. They have players that can step up, Toronto doesn’t. That isn’t entirely true but it feels like it. Leonard and Siakam have been their two scorers and everyone else is a tossup. Kyle Lowry had his first great game with 30 points but only three player broke double digits for the Raptors (Siakam had 15). The Bucks had 6 players that broke double digits (Eric Bledsoe had 9). That alone should tell you which team has the advantage.
In the last series, Leonard carried the Raptors against the Philadelphia 76ers by averaging over 34 a game. I don’t expect Leonard to average 34 and if he does, it will be much more inefficient. If his usage right goes up and it doesn’t turn to a good amount of points, the Bucks will win the series easily.
The good news is that anything can happen and that is why we watch. Leonard’s Game 7 buzzer beater proved that anything can happen if you give it your all.