Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors (-8.5, 199 o/u)
Tonight, the upstart Milwaukee Bucks (7-5) travel to the Air Canada Centre to face the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
The Bucks have been a pleasant surprise in the early going, sitting two games over .500 after posting three straight wins (over the Heat in Miami, the Knicks at home, and, most recently, the Nets in Brooklyn).
Milwaukee needed three overtimes to get by Brooklyn. Guard Brandon Knight had a lay-up for the win at the end of the first OT, but somehow managed to put it off the backboard a little too strong. Knight redeemed himself in double-OT, hitting a three-pointer to force a third extra frame, where the Bucks finally prevailed.
“My teammates trusted me to make the next shot to force a third overtime, so that’s really what it’s all about,” said Knight, “and we stuck through it as a team. It’s a situation where you wish you could just go ahead and make it and send it home, but like I said, we still did it in a different way, and I’m happy about that.”
On the other side of the floor, Toronto has been one of the best teams in the NBA, posting a 9-2 record to lead both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference. Tonight’s game marks the end of a seven-game home-stand for the Raptors who are 5-1 so far. The lone loss came to the Bulls on one of the rare nights when Derrick Rose played a full game. They rebounded well from that loss, beating the Jazz and then handing the Western Conference-leading Grizzlies just their second loss of the season.
The Raptors are a deep team that utilizes its bench well. But everything starts with point guard Kyle Lowry. The diminutive guard is averaging over 18 points, nearly six assists, and a minuscule 1.6 turnovers per game; his 5.3 value-over-replacement is 2.5 points higher than anyone else on the team.
The Raptors are 8.5-point favorites for tonight’s game. While a Toronto win seems likely despite Milwaukee’s recent hot-streak, the Bucks are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight on the road against Toronto and have eight points to play with.
(Photo credit: dramamine79 (flickr) [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)