Ultimate NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Betting Guide 2019
The Milwaukee Bucks have gone wire-to-wire as the NBA’s best team. They won a league-high 60 games, needed just nine games to advance to the conference semifinals and have covered the spread in 63% of their games, the highest mark since the 2014 Phoenix Suns.
Now they’re in the conference finals for the first time since 2001 squaring off against a Raptors team that looks far different from the ones that couldn’t get past LeBron James’ Cavaliers the last three seasons. A spot in the NBA Finals is on the line.
Kawhi Leonard has been the league’s postseason MVP, and Nick Nurse appears to have found the right combination of rotations and shots that will give the Raptors a fighting chance against the favorites in the East. Remember, this Toronto team won 58 games while resting Leonard and others throughout the season.
They’re no slouch, as fans of NBA betting certainly know.
(If you're looking to bet the matchups in the West, you need to be reading our other conference betting preview).
Odds to Win the East
|Milwaukee Bucks||2/5 (1.40)|
|Toronto Raptors||2/1 (3.00)|
Betting Storylines for the Bucks
Only time will tell, but there’s a chance the Milwaukee Bucks are in the beginning stages of something truly special. While the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics – Milwaukee’s first two playoff opponents – weren’t exactly world-beaters, the Bucks were nothing short of dominant.
Back Giannis Prop Bets
The Bucks went 8-1, and those eight wins came by a combined 160 points. They have an NBA-best 15.2 net rating, and the difference between them and second-place Toronto (8.8) is the difference between Toronto and sixth-place Denver (2.6).
They’ve been the best team in the playoffs after winning an NBA-best 60 games in the regular season. Minus the Game 1 hiccup against Boston, they haven’t slowed down a bit in the second season.
Unsurprisingly, it’s been Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way. The likely league MVP is averaging 27.4 points on 52% shooting, 11.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists in nine postseason games.
Antetokounmpo averaged 27.0 points on 59 percent shooting in 3 games against the Raptors this season. His player prop bets can’t get high enough. He’ll be a smart bet the entire series in whatever counting stats you choose.
Bucks At Full Strength
Shooting guard Malcolm Brogdon returned for the Bucks’ Game 5 win over the Celtics, and while he finished with just 10 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists in 17 minutes, his presence gives the Bucks another stellar defender and sharpshooter on the perimeter.
The Bucks were dominant without their do-it-all shooting guard. With him? They appear unbeatable. Brogdon will be a sneaky good play on prop bets for both points and assists.
They’ll also get the luxury of rest. The Bucks finished off the Celtics in five games, completing the gentleman’s sweep on Wednesday. They’ll have had a full week off in between games, whereas the Raptors will have had just three.
Don’t worry about the Bucks coming out rusty. Working Brogdon back into the mix with the additional time off will be a critical advantage. And don’t panic if the Bucks drop a game in the series. The Bucks are 22-1 this season after a loss. That’s the best record since 2003.
Only LeBron James’ championship-winning Heat team came close, going 20-3 after losses in 2013. The Bucks have plenty of similarities.
Betting Storylines for the Raptors
Antetokounmpo isn’t the only superstar performing at his peak. Kawhi Leonard was a one-man wrecking crew in helping the Raptors to a seven-game series win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
The All-Pro averaged 34.7 points on 53% shooting, 9.9 rebounds and 4.4 assists in nearly 40 minutes per game. That included a 41-point effort and the first buzzer beater in NBA Game 7 history to help the Raptors advance. Leonard will carry as big a burden as any player left in the playoffs, making him an excellent prop bet each night.
Bet the Unders
The Raptors will attempt to knock off a Bucks team that they had real trouble with in the regular season. They’ll do it behind a defense that has looked as good as ever in the playoffs, posting a 95.8 defensive rating in seven games against the Sixers.
Behind Leonard, 10 of the Raptors’ last 13 games have gone under. Against a Bucks team with the NBA’s best defense, low-scoring affairs could be in order; the Bucks went under three times in five games against the Celtics, another terrific defensive team.
Though they’re facing the NBA’s best home team, the Raptors were 26-15 on the road with the NBA’s third best net rating. Toronto is going to have to win at least one game in Milwaukee – something they did on Jan. 5 behind 30 points from Leonard – and they’re 3-2 on the road in the postseason.
X-Factor for the Raptors
While Kyle Lowry will be a major player for the Raptors, Pascal Siakam may be the X-factor. He had an up-and-down series against the Sixers and his length will be a factor in the Raptors being able to slow down the Bucks.
The good news is Siakam found plenty of success against Milwaukee in the regular season, averaging 24.3 points on 65% shooting in four meetings. That was the second most Siakam averaged against any team this season (OKC, 29.0). Siakam will make for an excellent play with points and rebounds.
SERIES PICK: Bet the Milwaukee Bucks to win the series at 2/5 (1.40) with Karamba. I see them winning in 6 games, and you can grab that prop bet at 27/4 (5.25).
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