Toronto Raptors Vs. Milwaukee Bucks Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Preview — Time Start, Channel, Stats, Odds - uSports.org

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Toronto Raptors Vs. Milwaukee Bucks Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Preview — Time Start, Channel, Stats, Odds Full view

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 25: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks carries the ball against the Boston Celtics during the first quarter at TD Garden on February 25, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Toronto Raptors Vs. Milwaukee Bucks Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 Preview — Time Start, Channel, Stats, Odds

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors took much different paths to get to the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

The Bucks are reliant on their homegrown star, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and swept the Detroit Pistons before making quick work of the Boston Celtics, needing only five games to advance. The Raptors, on the other hand, were led by a freshly acquired perennial All-Star in Kawhi Leonard. They also made sure to add firepower this season, whether it be through late-season pickups like Marc Gasol or developing Serge Ibaka or Pascal Siakam into players of a new mold. Unlike Milwaukee, the Raptors were taken deep into a series by their Eastern Conference Semifinals opponents, the Philadelphia Sixers.

Fans of basketball are going to be entertained by this series. Both teams deserve to have their seeds and both of them are serious championship contenders. Despite having first-year coaches in Mike Budenholzer and Nick Nurse, each team has taken its play to a new level. Wednesday’s Game 1 in Milwaukee will air at 8:30 p.m. EST on TNT.

Expect to see a battle between Leonard and “the Greek Freak” for the series. They’re two MVP-level players that don’t slack off on either end of the court. While Giannis typically shows a lot more emotion than Leonard, Leonard has reason to be calmer in the playoffs after having already won an NBA Finals MVP. Kawhi’s 31.8 points per game, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists averaged over 12 games have carried Toronto. It’ll be interesting to see how they do with a team that’s almost perfectly designed to shut him down.

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Sidekicks Khris Middleton and Siakam, who could carry their own teams if given the chance, will face off against each other and sometimes switch onto Leonard and Antetokounmpo if need be.

This series could also come down to the third in command. Eric Bledsoe has blossomed into a winning player since being traded from the Phoenix Suns and Kyle Lowry, though not performing at the level at which he once did, can still have a valuable impact on the court. Regardless of who has to carry the team, expect this series to be a long one.

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Written by Bill Piersa