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After winning the first two games, Milwaukee has dropped three straight games and are on the brink of elimination. Toronto has made all the right adjustments to take control of the series, starting with excellent transition defense and team rebounding. The Raptors can’t relax though, they must play like they are down 3-2 to reach their first ever NBA Finals.
Keys to the game
Offensively, Milwaukee needs to take good shots and stop settling for difficult ones. They must attack the basket to put pressure on the Raptor’s defense to create free throw attempts and foul trouble. The Bucks must get their three point shooting going in hopes of stretching Toronto’s defense and open up driving lanes.
Defensively, the Bucks have to defend the three point better by closing out on shooters. Minimizing their fouls will reduce the Raptor’s free throw attempts where they are cashing in. Milwaukee needs to force more turnovers which should ignite their dormant transition game.
On offense, Toronto will need more scoring by committee outside of Kawhi Leonard to keep the Buck’s defense honest. They must move the ball so Milwaukee can’t focus on one player, which leads to high assist totals and open three point shots. The Raptors have been excellent at the charity stripe so creating contact driving will put the onus on the referees to make calls.
On defense, the Raptor’s must team rebound to offset Milwaukee’s size and length. Their transition defense should be the focal point to take away easy opportunities. Toronto needs to stay close to shooters and make the Bucks hit tough shots over them.
The x-factor for Milwaukee will be Kris Middleton and Nikola Mirotic. Middleton must join the scoring party in order for the Buck’s offense to run at peak performance. Mirotic’s ability to stretch the floor and pull bigs away from the basket opens up the lane.
The x-factor for Toronto will be their bench play, specifically Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet. Two of the three players will need to have a productive game. Each player has the ability to tip the scales in the Raptor’s favor.
Prediction: Toronto will play with a sense of urgency to avoid a Game 7 back in Milwaukee and close out the series at home to advance to the franchise’s first NBA Finals.