NBA Playoffs 2019 Live: Four things to watch in Game 2 between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. Bucks vs. Raptors odds, top picks, Game 1 predictions. The Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks face off in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 1 between the teams with the NBA’s best records tips at 8:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday from Fiserv Forum.
The 2019 NBA Playoffs have provided plenty of drama already, and we’re in for even more excitement after four memorable regular season meetings between these teams. The Bucks won three of four over the Raptors, including both games in Toronto, but the Raptors won in Milwaukee as an underdog. Milwaukee is favored by 6.5 at home in the current Bucks vs. Raptors odds, the same as where the spread opened.
Even without Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 116-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. Stephen Curry led the way for Golden State with 36 points in the win. Klay Thompson (26) and Draymond Green (12) were the only other Warriors in double figures scoring, but the likes of Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney made their presence known on defence.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, meanwhile, struggled with 36 points on 11-for-31 shooting from the field. Turnovers were a massive problem for the Blazers in Game 1. Not only did they commit 21, but the Warriors also turned those mistakes into 31 points. That was roughly a quarter of Golden State’s points in the game.
Lillard was responsible for seven of the team’s turnovers. Iguodala and Thompson took turns defending the four-time All-Star and the Warriors provided plenty of help behind them whenever Lillard put the ball on the floor.
“They gave a lot of attention to the ball when I was coming off screens,” Lillard said post-game. “Even when I was in isolation situations, I was seeing two or three people. That was obvious, that they were trying to make things hard for me just by making me see bodies and sending two guys are me sometimes.
“Sometimes I couldn’t even get an attempt up, even if I was trying to force it. They did a good job tonight defensively. Even when I was trying to find guys they were getting deflections just because there was a crowd.”
With how explosive of a scorer Lillard is, the Warriors will likely continue to defend him the same for the rest of this series. Beyond the turnovers, they were able to limit Lillard to 19 points on 4-for-12 shooting from the field in Game 1 by — once again — making sure he saw multiple bodies when he made a move towards the basket.
That puts pressure on other players to step up, starting with McCollum and extending to Kanter, Harkless and Aminu. Of the four, Harkless played the best in Game 1. He finished with 17 points, most of his baskets coming on timely cuts to take advantage of the Warriors doubling the ball.
The Blazers will need much more of that from Kanter, Harkless and Aminu, in particular, to punish the Warriors for the way they’re defending Lillard.
Most teams had no idea how to slow down Antetokounmpo, and the Raptors fit into that category. In three regular season meetings with Toronto, Antetokounmpo averaged 27 points, 15.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.0 blocks and 1.7 steals, while shooting 58.5 percent from the field. Milwaukee won and covered three of the four matchups against the Raptors this season.
For Milwaukee, it will have been a full week since they played a game. Only twice this year have the Bucks had four-plus days off between games – they lost both of them by an average of 10.5 points. Plus, the Raptors won at Milwaukee 123-116 on Jan. 5, surviving a 43-point barrage by Antetokounmpo. Leonard and Pascal Siakam each scored 30 points that game.