Tonight is game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. These two teams not only led the Eastern Conference but topped the whole NBA in wins this season. So it's not surprising that they're meeting in the Conference Finals to decide who advances to the NBA Finals. The Bucks have defeated the Pistons and Celtics to get here, sweeping the Pistons and disposing the Celtics in 5 games, winning 4 in a row after losing game 1. The Raptors have disposed of the Magic and the 76ers, the latter on a crazy last second 22 footer by Kawhi Leonard that bounced around the rim and fell through as time expired to give them the win and advance them to the ECF for the first time in their franchises history.
The big story in this series will be Kawhi Leonard Vs Giannis Antetokounmpo. Both these players put up great regular season numbers and are tops in the conversation for the MVP award. Kawhi has been described as possibly the best 2 way player in basketball but Giannis isn't far behind, if at all. Comparing the 2 players you have to look at their history. Kawhi has an edge here as he led the Spurs past the Super Team Miami Heat in 2014 to a Championship, claiming the Finals MVP award along the way. While Giannis doesn't boast anything close to that accomplishment he's in a position to lead this Bucks team to the Finals and possibly prove he's the best player currently in basketball.
The Bucks won the season series from the Raptors 3 games to 1. The Raptors only win did come in Milwaukee but it was a close win and the Bucks won 2 of their games handily and won a close game in Toronto as well. Based on this alone I would have to say that the Bucks are the favorites and this is reflected in the series odds as they are listed as 3-1 favorites to move on to the Finals.
Based on all the information I would give the edge in this series to the Bucks based on the season outcomes and win totals overall. However, experience wise I would say that goes to the Raptors because of Kawhi and his playoff experience with the Spurs. This should be an interesting series and I think it will likely come down to whoever can either lead their team better out of Giannis and Kawhi, or who gets more scoring help. I would also give the edge in supporting cast to the Bucks because at times the Raptors seem lost on offense if Kawhi is not on the court or doesn't have the ball in his hands. Also Kyle Lowry has a history of disappearing in big games/series. They will not advance if that happens in this one. I actually hope this series goes 7 games just because the games will likely be very entertaining but I expect the Bucks to win and make it to the NBA Finals in 6 games.