The Toronto Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA odds on Tuesday. They’ll get another crack at it Thursday night at Fiserv Forum.
Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Thursday, February 18, 2021 – 7:30 PM ET at Fiserv Forum
It’s always nice to handicap a game that we’ve already seen before. The Toronto Raptors (13-15 SU, 12-16 ATS) visit the Milwaukee Bucks (16-12 SU, 13-15 ATS) this Thursday, two days after beating them 124-113 as 6-point road dogs. That performance tells us a lot about both teams – especially the Raptors, who went small with both OG Anunoby and Norman Powell in the starting lineup, and Aron Baynes coming off the bench.
Unfortunately, the Raptors might have to trot out yet another different starting five on Thursday. Kyle Lowry is iffy at the 1-spot after spraining his left ankle in their first meeting. We also don’t know as of press time whether Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday will make his return from the COVID-19 list. With those two players in question, this could be a good spot to roll with the Under.
This would be a different play from what I would normally recommend for the Raptors. They’re not the same defensive presence they were last year, now that both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka have moved on; the Over has been the better NBA pick thus far at 17-11. However, taking Lowry (plus-0.6 VORP) out of the lineup would change things somewhat. He’s still one of Toronto’s better scorers as he gets ready to turn 35 next month, but Lowry isn’t getting as many whistles at the other end of the court as he used to.
It won’t be a crisis for the Raps themselves if Lowry doesn’t play. His On/Off stats at Basketball Reference show a tiny minus-0.1 points per 100 possessions; Fred VanVleet (plus-1.2 VORP) is already putting his stamp on this team, and Pascal Siakam (plus-0.4 VORP) is also capable of moving the ball up the court. But Toronto’s offense is definitely better with Lowry in uniform – and their defense much improved now that Anunoby (plus-0.5 VORP) has returned from a 10-game absence, where the Over went 8-2.
Milwaukee’s offense would certainly be better with Holiday (plus-1.1 VORP) running the show. They gave up a pretty penny to land Holiday during the offseason – maybe too pretty – but he’s a significant upgrade over their other options. The Under will have more legs Thursday if the Bucks start Donte DiVincenzo (plus-0.3 VORP) and Bryn Forbes (minus-0.1 VORP) in the backcourt again, and if D.J. Augustin (0.0 VORP) gets more minutes off the bench.
There probably won’t be any NBA lines for this matchup until more is known about the status of Lowry and Holiday, although there might be some odds available by the time you read this. Make it a small bet in any case, given all the uncertainty, but don’t be shy about taking the Under if both point guards are out.
NBA Pick: Under 234 (-105) with PoinstBet