The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors aren’t dealing with the critical injuries both the Warriors and Blazers are facing out West, but there are a few issues with key players that could shape the outcome of the series.
Fans of NBA betting should keep a close eye on these heading into Game 1 on Wednesday night.
Malcolm Brogdon To See Minutes Increase
He’s not the first, second or third option on the Bucks, but Malcolm Brogdon is arguably one of the most important players in Milwaukee. The plantar fasciitis injury he suffered in March kept him out of the last 13 regular-season games and first eight postseason games.
Brogdon was able to return in limited fashion for the Bucks’ series-clinching Game 5 win over the Celtics, scoring 10 points and handing out 4 assists in 17 minutes.
Brogdon, who started all 64 games he appeared in during the regular season, might still come off the bench when the Bucks and Raptors kick off the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday.
The Bucks had an entire week off thanks to finishing the Celtics in 5 games and the Raptors and Sixers going the distance, so Brogdon will be as healthy as he’s been suffering the injury on March 15.
Brogdon’s splits are eye-opening. In 49 Bucks wins, he shot 52.5% from the field and 46.2% from beyond the arc. In 15 Bucks losses, Brogdon shot just 44.4% from the field and 31.7% from beyond the arc. Brogdon isn’t a superstar, but he is a key piece to the Bucks’ championship run. His health is paramount against a team like the Raptors.
Pascal Siakam’s calf injury still lingering?
Though it’s only the second most talked about calf injury in the postseason, Pascal Siakam’s health to the Raptors can’t be understated. He suffered the right calf contusion during Game 3 against the Sixers and initially was listed as doubtful for Game 4.
Siakam wound up playing in Game 4 but wasn’t himself, scoring just 9 points – his fewest since April 1 – and going 2 of 10 from the field – his worst shooting performance in a month.
Siakam responded well the rest of the series, but since suffering the injury he shot 37.5% from the field and just 21.1% from beyond the arc. Those numbers were down significantly from the 54.9% and 36.9%, respectively, he shot in the regular season.
Siakam isn’t listed on the Raptors’ injury report and there hasn’t been any talk of the calf hindering him – he averaged 33.4 minutes per game after the injury – but it’s something to keep an eye on. Siakam will match up with Antetokounmpo often throughout the series, meaning they need him at as close to full-strength as possible.
Kawhi’s Load Management Paying Off
The Raptors were often criticized for their handling of Kawhi Leonard, who missed 22 games this season for what was referred to as “load management.” In reality, Toronto was being ultra-cautious with its superstar, who was returning from a quad injury the previous season in San Antonio that limited him to nine games.
No one is criticizing them now. Leonard has been a star in the postseason, averaging 31.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 37.3 minutes per game. That included a record-setting 39 field goal attempts in Game 7 against the Sixers while logging 43 minutes, the most he had played in a regular season game in his NBA career.
There’s no injury here, but the burden Leonard has carried could catch up to him at some point, especially against the Bucks and their league-leading defense. It’s something to watch as the series progresses.