It wasn’t a sure thing and almost went differently, but at the end of the day, the top two teams in the East will ultimately square off in the Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto overcame Philadelphia in 7 intense games, while Milwaukee dispatched of Boston in just 5 games. The Raptors have consistently been the best East team without Lebron, but this year the Bucks might give them a real run for their money to make the Finals.
 Toronto Raptors (0-0) @  Milwaukee Bucks (0-0)
This surely hasn’t been something you could say the past decade, but either the Toronto Raptors or the Milwaukee Bucks will be in this year’s NBA Finals. Great news for both teams, but they’ll need to duke it out first to decide who will ultimately claim that prize. Milwaukee won the regular season series 3-1 even without Giannis playing in one of those wins, but the playoffs always show us that the regular season doesn’t always matter. Who will draw first blood in deciding the new Kings of the East?
The second round was no joke for the Raptors, as it took them a full 7 games to knock out Philadelphia. Even though Joel Embiid played fairly poor throughout the series, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons proved a tough challenge for Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. The series was dead even heading into Game 7 and was seconds away from ending in overtime, but Kawhi Leonard hit an improbable yet incredible buzzer-beating shot to win the game to advance Toronto to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now with a fresh slate against the Bucks, can Toronto get Kawhi some help?
- Star Averages in Semis: Kawhi Leonard – 34.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.0 assists. Pascal Siakam – 19.4 points, 6.4 rebounds. Kyle Lowry – 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.0 assists.
- Against Philly, the Raptors scored 101.6 points per game while holding the 76ers to 98.9 points per game.
- During the playoffs, Toronto is 3-2 on the road.
- Toronto covered the point spread just 3 of the 7 games against Philadelphia.
After an interesting Game 1 loss to the Celtics, the Bucks completely flipped the switch and won the next 4 games to finish the series in 5 games. Giannis Antetokounmpo was simply dominant while Kyrie Irving and the rest of the Celtics seemed to flounder. Al Horford and Jaylen Brown played well, but they were no match for the MVP contestant. The Bucks are now 8-1 in this year’s Playoffs heading into tonight, but this will surely be their biggest test yet.
- Star Averages in Semis: Giannis Antetokounmpo – 28.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 5.2 assists. Khris Middleton – 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists. Eric Bledsoe – 13.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.6 assists.
- The Bucks scored 113.0 points per game while keeping the Celtics to just 104.4 points per game.
- Have only lost 1 time at home during the playoffs. They lost only 8 home games during the regular season.
- Milwaukee was excellent at covering the point spread against Boston, doing so in 4 of their 5 games.
Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -6.0
While the regular season certainly doesn’t mean much when it comes to the playoffs, there’s no real other way to tell what this Bucks team is capable. On paper they look fantastic and they certainly did win more games than any other team, but the Raptors are still the team to beat in the East. Any team that wants to make the Finals now needs to go through them rather than Lebron, or at least that’s what we thought. The Bucks are the best team in the East, and they should learn from their Game 1 mistake against Boston by securing home court with a win here tonight. Your best bet is on Milwaukee winning to go up 1-0 in the series tonight.