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1) Milwaukee Bucks
2) Toronto Raptors
Most will make this series solely about Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard but that would be a mistake. They will certainly have a say in the result of this series. It’s really more about their respective supporting casts. Which will ultimately tip the scales in the Bucks or Raptors favor?
Keys to the game
Offensively, Toronto will need all hands on deck against the best defensive team in the league. Kawhi Leonard must continue his brilliant play to instill confidence in his team’s chances. In order to loosen up Milwaukee’s defense, they must be more consistent from three point range.
Defensively, the Raptors must gang rebound to avoid giving up additional possessions. It will be crucial for Toronto to limit Milwaukee’s transition game. Forcing turnovers is another area of interest to get control of the game’s tempo.
On offense, Milwaukee needs to continue to get contributions from a variety of players. They must unleash their devastating transition game led by the Greek Freak putting extreme pressure on Toronto’s defense. Relentlessly attacking the basket sets up their three point shooting, which is the opposite of the Raptors.
On defense, the Bucks won’t stop Kawhi Leonard but they must make him a volume shooter and harass the other players. They have dominated the boards, which leads to limiting opponent’s attempts. Milwaukee has used their length to get deflections and disrupt Toronto’s offensive flow.
For Toronto, the x-factors are Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. Lowry has to be consistently good against the Bucks backcourt tandem or they will pay a steep price. Ibaka will be key because he can defend bigs on the perimeter and keep defenses honest on the other end.
The x-factors for Milwaukee will be Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic. Brogdon adds quality depth and another weapon for defenses to worry about. Mirotic can be a matchup nightmare with his ability to stretch the floor pulling bigs away from the basket.
Prediction: Milwaukee is at home and well rested. They have been near perfect at home all postseason. The crowd will give them some extra juice and the Bucks will ride that wave to a victory.