It's about time the part of the season that actually matters began, the NBA playoffs will begin in just over 12 hours, and the Bucks and Raptors will be on in 16. If you think this series is a mismatch for the Bucks or a walkthrough for the Raptors just based off paper, you need to take a step back and reconsider. The Raptors should win this series, but the Bucks are the team best equipped to give a top four seed in the East a fight.
TORONTO OFFENSE VS. MILWAUKEE DEFENSE
Milwaukee's defense is too inconsistent to stop a team with a dynamic backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, and have nobody big enough to slow down Jonas Valanciunas enough. The duo of Tony Snell and Matthew Dellavedova could cause problems for the All-Star guards, but the trio of John Henson, Greg Monroe and rookie Thon Maker all have different weaknesses for Valanciunas. Edge goes to Toronto.
MILWAUKEE OFFENSE VS. TORONTO DEFENSE
Toronto had the fourth best defense in the East this year, and the Bucks aren't really that threatening offensively outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton can have his moments, and Greg Monroe can to a lesser extent, but nobody else averaged more than 10.2 PPG this season. The Bucks have a lot of guys who can put up 10 points on any night, and a lot of decent shooters, but it really comes down to how much Middleton scores. I think the Raptors have the edge here too.
MILWAUKEE STARTERS VS. TORONTO STARTERS
Toronto has three All-Stars to Milwaukee's one, and Valanciunas is one of the two that isn't. The Bucks are also starting two rookies, and although one may be rookie of the year, he's still a rookie. Edge to Toronto.
MILWAUKEE BENCH VS. TORONTO BENCH
This one has to go to the Bucks, because they have as many as seven different players on that bench they can turn to on any given night. Plus, Greg Monroe, Matthew Dellavedova and Michael Beasley are all basically starters for the Bucks and begin on the bench. Patrick Patterson and Cory Joseph are nice players, but outside of that Toronto's bench isn't that deep. Edge to Milwaukee.
Usually the higher seed gets the edge here by default, as talent usually wins games. That is the case here, although Milwaukee has the best player and isn't that far behind as the standings might suggest. Edge to Toronto.
Dwane Casey and Jason Kidd have gone head-to-head before, when Kidd was a rookie coach for Brooklyn. That is a much different team than what he currently has with the Bucks, and Toronto was much less experienced back then as well. Casey has surpassed Kidd on the coaching tree, so Toronto gets the edge.
The Bucks have Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova on the team, who both have won championships and have a large amount of postseason experience. However, Toronto's entire relevant team (minus PJ Tucker) was in one of the conference finals last season, and know what it takes to get there. Toronto has the edge.
Obviously, I think Toronto will win this series, as the only edge the Bucks have here is their bench and having the best player on the court. And neither of those are by that much. However, the Bucks are competitive and have been the better team since the All-Star break and should not be taken lightly by Toronto. This should be the most exciting series in the East.