Previewing the second-round series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors with shot charts, assist maps, offensive style charts and expected win probabilities.
After positively steamrolling the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks now take on the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks dominated their second-round series with stifling defense and a highly efficient offense, distributed across the entire roster. The figures below show the cumulative points per shot of Giannis and non-Giannis players to show how efficiency was the order of the day for the entire squad. Of note, this is in stark contrast to their opponent, the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors squeezed by the Philadelphia Sixers nearly entirely on the back of Kawhi Leonard. He played at apex Kawhi levels the entire series, shouldering a massive minute and usage load. The inability of the remainder of the Toronto roster to reliably perform offensively was the primary reason the Sixers were able to load up on defense solely against Kawhi. The figures below show the cumulative points per shot of Kawhi and non-Kawhi Raptors to contrast their efficiency. Players not named Kawhi will need to step up in order for the Raptors to make a trip to the Finals.
— Andrew Patton (@anpatt7)
Offensive style chart
These charts are not meant to evaluate whether an offense is good or bad. They are designed to help illustrate how teams go about the goal of trying to put the ball in the basket. Each team’s offense is evaluated on four stylistic spectrums.
Ball movement is measured with the average touch time for each team, from the NBA’s player tracking statistics. A lower average touch time means the ball is moving from player to player more quickly.
Player movement is measured with a combination of different NBA.com tracking statistics and works out to average distance traveled per 24 seconds of offensive possession.
Pace is measured with the average length of an offensive possession from Inpredictable, a more accurate representation for how quickly a team is working than traditional pace.
Shot selection is measured with MoreyBall percentage — in this case the percentage of a team’s true shooting opportunities that came at the rim, from the free throw line, or on a 3-pointer. It’s a generalized measure but captures something about how much each team hews to the shots that are, on average, the most efficient.
— Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh)
Assist maps: Malcolm Brogdon
The Milwaukee Bucks have been nearly perfect this postseason – notching an 8-1 record with an average margin of victory of 15 points thus far. The Bucks dominance in the first two rounds of the playoffs is even more impressive when you consider that they’ve been winning without their starting guard, Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon had been forced out of action with a plantar fascia tear but he made his return in Milwaukee’s Game 5 close-out win over Boston last Wednesday.
As the team’s best 3-point shooter (43 percent), Brogdon serves an important role as a floor spacer in Milwaukee’s offense, creating opportunities for Giannis Antetokounmpo to drive. But Brogdon is more than just a stationary spot-up shooter; he’s an important secondary creator for the Bucks as well, averaging over 10 drives per game in his own right. Lacking an explosive first step, Brogdon won’t necessarily create many scoring opportunities in isolation (just 1.2 possessions per game); but he does a good job of attacking close-outs and mismatches. And when Brogdon gets a step on his opponent, he has the strength and guile to hold him off. Once he gets a foot in the lane, Brogdon likes to downshift — using his off hand to keep his defender on his hip (or back) — so he can draw help and distribute the ball to open shooters around the perimeter.
Brogdon’s ability to penetrate-and-kick, along with his good court vision from the top of the key, make him a perfect facilitator for the Bucks modern offense. Per PBPstats.com, 90 of Brogdon’s 205 assists this season (44 percent) were converted from behind the 3-point line. Another 91 of his assists (44 percent) led to baskets at the rim (with Antetokounmpo being the most frequent beneficiary). Taken together, that means 9 of every 10 Brogdon assists comes at the rim or from 3, which is exactly the way the Bucks like it.
Brogdon played 17 minutes on Wednesday and – after nearly a week of additional rest and treatment – he’s ready to resume carrying an even heavier load in Game 1 against Toronto. Milwaukee will surely get a lift from his secondary creation.
— Todd Whitehead (@CrumpledJumper)
To project the series, I am using my in-season game projection model. The model is trained off historical game data and accounts for rest, travel, team strength, and matchup. Since I began using the model to predict outcomes, I have been able to correctly identify the winner in about 70 percent of games and has correctly identified the winner in 78 percent of games in these playoffs.
The Bucks come into the series as the smallest of favorites, winning in just 53 percent of the 10,000 simulations. The average length of the series was 5.8 games, with a 1-in-3 chance for the series to go seven games. The Raptors will have a few days to recover after finishing the 76ers off on in an amazing Game 7, but they will need to be at full strength to beat the Bucks. Both team’s most likely win scenario is around a 1-in-5 chance of happening. This has the potential to be an incredible series, both teams boasting their own superstar wings and a plethora of surrounding talent that made them the top two teams in the East this year. This is the series that many wanted when the playoffs were set. The Bucks have an ever so slight edge, but we should all sit back, break out some popcorn, and prepare ourselves for an incredible Eastern Conference Finals.
— Jacob Goldstein (@JacobEGoldstein)