Toronto dealt out woodshed treatment and pulled even at 2-2 with Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. Kyle Lowry led the Raptors to a 120-102 win as three-point home underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a +130 payout. The 222 combined points went “over” the 216.5-point total.
Lowry led six Toronto players in double figures with 25 points, five rebounds and six assists compared to only one turnover. Lawhi Leonard finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, four steals and a pair of blocked shots. Norman Powell produced another strong performance off the bench with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 13 rebounds. Marc Gasol added 17 points, five boards, two blocks and seven assists without a turnover.
Leonard was playing in pain with a nagging leg injury. After playing 52 minutes in Game 3, his 19 points were the second-fewest he’s scored in these playoffs. Pascal Siakam, who had logged 51 minutes of action in Sunday’s double-overtime victory, was limited to a postseason-low seven points.
Therefore, it was on Toronto’s bench to come up big in Game 4. This group had been getting dominated by Milwaukee’s reserves. Malcolm Brogdon, George Hill and Pat Connaughton have played lights out for the Bucks throughout the postseason.
In Game 4, however, Toronto’s trio of Powell, Ibaka and Fred VanVleet combined for 48 points. VanVleet scored 13 points on 5-of-6 makes from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from long distance. The Wichita State product dished out six assists and had just one turnover.
On the flip side, Brogdon, Hill and Connaughton combined for only 12 points, with Brogdon going 2-of-11 from the field. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. Khris Middleton was sensational in the losing effort, scoring 30 points on 11-of-15 FGAs and 4-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. Middleton also had six rebounds and seven assists without a turnover.
This is only the second time all year that Milwaukee has dropped back-to-back games. Mike Budenholzer’s team had a seven-game winning streak snapped in a 115-111 loss at Utah on March 2. Two nights later, the Bucks lost 114-105 at Phoenix. They responded on March 7 with a 117-98 victory over Indiana as 10-point home “chalk.”
As of early Wednesday afternoon, most books had Milwaukee (70-25 straight up, 57-34-4 against the spread) installed as a seven-point home favorite for Thursday’s Game 5. The total is 217 points and the Raptors are +240 on the money line.
Milwaukee owns a 39-9 SU record and a 29-17-2 ATS mark at home this year. Budenholzer’s bunch is 6-1 both SU and ATS in seven home playoff games. Meanwhile, the Raptors are 29-19 SU and 22-26 ATS in 48 road assignments.
Toronto (68-30 SU, 46-52 ATS) has been an underdog of seven points or more only twice this season, going 1-1 both SU and ATS. The Raptors won 113-93 at Golden State as 7.5-point road underdogs on Dec. 12, and they dropped a 126-101 decision at Philadelphia as seven-point ‘dogs on Dec. 22.
Milwaukee has killed it for our purposes as a healthy favorite this year. In fact, the Bucks are 7-0 ATS when listed as favorites of seven or 7.5 points. They are 31-12 ATS in 43 games as favorites of seven points or more.
The updated series price at Sportsbook is Milwaukee -260, leaving Toronto as the +220 underdog. The offshore book has Golden State as -225 “chalk’ to win the NBA Finals. The Bucks and Raptors have +250 and 10/1 odds to win it all, respectively.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has the Warriors as -220 favorites vs. Milwaukee (+180) if that matchup materializes. Golden State is -400 for a potential series against Toronto (+300).
Thursday’s Game 5 tip is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Eastern on TNT. Game 6 is back in Toronto on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. and, if necessary, Game 7 would be Monday at 8:30 ET. Regardless of when the East finals ends, the opener of the NBA Finals is slated for Thursday (5/30) at 9:07 p.m. ET. on ABC.