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Old 01-31-2019, 12:42 PM
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Milwaukee (36-13 SU, 27-20-2 ATS) at Toronto (37-15 SU, 22-29-1 ATS)

The TNT double-header (8:05 p.m. ET) begins Thursday with a possible preview of this year’s Eastern Conference Finals as the Bucks and Raptors meet for the fourth and final time in the regular season. The latest futures market has Toronto (2/1) and Milwaukee (3/1) as the top contenders to win the East along with Boston (2/1) and Philadelphia (6/1).

Toronto holds a one-game over Milwaukee for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the sense of urgency should be with the home squad. The Bucks won and covered their first two encounters against the Raptors this season, a 124-109 decision at home on Oct. 29 before a 104-99 road win on Dec. 9.

Toronto avenged those losses with a 123-116 win over Milwaukee as a 5 -point road underdog on Jan. 5 and it will need to claim Thursday’s win to salvage a season split.

The Raptors didn’t have Kawhi Leonard available for the loss in Milwaukee at the end of October but he did post 30 points on the Bucks in early January. Make a note that Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo also missed the first meeting of the regular season between the two teams but the Greek product posted 43 points in the recent setback to the Raptors. Unfortunately, Milwaukee’s supporting cast couldn’t buy a shot and that’s been an issue on the road.

The Bucks are ranked first in scoring offense at home with 120 points per game but that number drops to 114.1 on the road. Expecting a high-scoring game could be wishful thinking knowing the Toronto is holding opponents to 106.7 PPG at home.

That defensive effort has helped Toronto go 21-4 at home but it hasn’t been profitable (12-13 ATS) for bettors. Keep in mind that 11 of the 13 non-covers occurred in straight up wins when the team was laying 8 points or more.

Bookmaker sent out Toronto as a 2 -point home favorite for this installment, which is a drop-off from the spread (Raptors -5) in their first encounter from Scotiabank Arena in December. Since Milwaukee won that game at Toronto, the Raptors have ripped off 10 straight wins at home.

The adjustment from +5 to +2 on the Bucks certainly shows how much respect Milwaukee has earned from the oddsmakers this season. Head coach Mike Budenholzer has been able to pull the right strings and he also has one of the deepest teams in the league. He’s surrounded Antetokounmpo with a ton of shooters and they’re not afraid to hoist from distance. The Bucks are ranked second in the league with 37.7 attempts from 3-point land, only behind Houston. When those bombs are connecting, 40-point quarters become the norm for Milwaukee.

The Bucks have only been listed as underdogs five times this season and they’ve gone 4-1 both SU and ATS in those games while the ‘over’ has gone 4-1 as well. The lone loss was a four-point setback (117-113) at Boston on Nov. 1, which was a highly competitive game.

Only four teams in the East owning winning records on the road and Milwaukee (14-9 SU, 11-10-2 ATS) is one of them. The Bucks enter this game with a 4-1 record in their last five away games, which includes Tuesday’s 115-105 win at Detroit as a seven-point favorite.

Toronto hasn’t played since Sunday when it snapped a two-game losing skid at Dallas with a 123-120 win as a 4 -point road favorite. The Raptors have gone 2-0 (0-2 ATS) this season when playing on three days or rest or more and the ‘over’ has cashed in both those games.

The total on this game opened 230 and the early money has pushed the number to 232 as of Thursday morning. The ‘over’ is on a 5-1 run in this series and that includes a 2-1 mark in the last three games play in Canada.
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