After the Raptors tied the series 2-2, Nick Ballistreri previews Game 5 and thinks the series has a whole new life as it’s now a Best of 3.
Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals shifts back to Milwaukee with the series now tied 2-2. The game will be played in Scotiabank Arena, on Thursday May 23, at 8:30 PM EST.
Raptors vs Bucks preview
Things looked bleak for Toronto. After losing the first two games in Milwaukee, the Bucks looked like a far superior team. This came as no surprise as the Bucks soared to a 60-win season, facing little adversity along the way. But after a few adjustments, and some key role players stepping up for Toronto, the series shifts back to Milwaukee for Game 5, now tied up at 2-2 after Toronto’s 120-102 victory.
Kyle Lowry has become a punching bag for NBA fans everywhere based off his playoff history. Lowry, known as a big-time regular season player, seems to come up short every year when it matters the most, the playoffs. In the first 3 games in this series, the narrative was correct. Lowry struggled with everything, his shot, his defense, and staying out of foul trouble. In Game 4, Lowry stepped up in a huge way, keeping his team’s season from teetering on the verge of extinction.
In Game 4, Lowry came out on a mission. He was hitting his shots early, knowing that without Kawhi Leonard at 100%, he was going to have to shoulder the load. Lowry did just that, finishing with a team-high 25 points, adding 6 assists and 5 rebounds for good measure. His 25 points were one more than his total in games 2 and 3 combined.
Lowry had help. Even though he wasn’t fully himself, Kawhi Leonard brought a solid effort. He finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds in a gritty performance with his team’s back against the wall. Going forward, Leonard’s status will play a huge role in deciding this series, but Raptors head coach Nick Nurse doesn’t seem too worried about his health, saying “He’s certainly tired, as a lot of guys in this series are, he looks OK to me.”
Nurse better hope his analysis is spot on, because it can be hard to imagine the Raptors role players playing as well as they did in Game 4 going forward. Starting center Marc Gasol chipped in 17 points, with a team-high 7 assists, and forward Serge Ibaka made a huge impact with 17 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
Although the Bucks blew their chance to steal a game in Toronto, they still have the advantage in this series. They have home court if the series extends to 7, and on the bright side of things, Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to have found his groove again, filling the stat sheet with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.
Khris Middleton played like the All-Star sidekick he is, scoring 30 points to keep the Bucks in the game. Besides his contributions, there is nothing to write home about the Bucks Game 4 performance. They frankly got outplayed, and for what seems like the first time all season, the Bucks backs are against the wall. The Bucks blew through the first 2 rounds of these playoffs, going 8-1 along the way. They haven’t faced much adversity to this point, and for a team with so little playoff experience, it will be an interesting storyline to watch to see how the heightened stakes push this team.
Raptors vs Bucks key series stats
- Both teams have defended their home court, each winning both at home
- After scoring over 50 points a game in Games 2 and 3, the Bucks bench only scored 23 points in Game 4
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is averaging 22.8 PPG, 16 RBG, and 5.8 AST
- Kawhi Leonard is averaging 29.3 PPG, 8.3 RBG, and 2.3 STL
- Both teams are 2-0 in their respective Game 5’s to this point
Raptors vs Bucks betting lines
- Bucks -312 on ML, Raptors +250 at Sugarhouse
- Bucks -7, Raptors +7
Raptors vs Bucks Spread Prediction
Even though the Raptors have won the last two games, oddsmakers still believe in the Bucks, as they are listed as 7 points favorites in Game 5. This series has been unpredictable to say the least, but the Bucks are 6-1 at home this postseason, showing that Scotiabank Arena is a true home-court advantage. I think the Bucks win this won, and behind the home crowd, combined with the injury status of Kawhi Leonard, the Bucks win this one by 10+, and cover the 7 point spread. Things will get dicey for the Raptors down 3-2 going home.