NBA Playoffs 2019: Preview, Prediction and Viewing Info for Sunday's Action

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 19, 2019

MILWAUKEE, WI - MAY 17: Ersan Ilyasova #77 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts to a play against the Toronto Raptors during Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals on May 17, 2019 at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks are two wins away from returning to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. 

The Bucks go into Sunday's Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a 2-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors after a pair of victories on their home court. 

Toronto is starting to get backed into a corner in the series, and it can't afford to suffer the same fate as Portland in the Western Conference Finals and go down by three games.

Nick Nurse's team needs to find a way to bounce back from a 22-point Game 2 loss in order to make the series competitive by defending its home floor. 

                         

Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 Information

Start Time: 7 p.m. ET 

TV: TNT

Live Stream: TNTdrama.com

                   

Preview and Prediction

Milwaukee's role players have been the difference-makers in the first two games of the series. 

In Game 2, Ersan Ilyasova, Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill combined for 44 points off the bench. Toronto received 39 points off its bench from six players. 

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Until Milwaukee's all-around scoring threat is stopped, or at least slowed down, the Raptors are going to have difficulties coming back in the series. 

In order to quiet Milwaukee's scoring, Toronto needs to do a better job of limiting second-chance opportunities through offensive rebounds. 

The Bucks hold a 26-14 advantage in offensive rebounds in the series and are shooting 43.2 percent from the field compared to Toronto's 39.7 field-goal percentage. 

If the Raptors keep allowing the Bucks to beat them on the offensive glass, the series could be over fast given the way Milwaukee is hitting shots. 

The incredible part of Milwaukee's performance is Giannis Antetokounmpo has not had to go into superstar mode and beat the Raptors by himself yet. 

Antetokounmpo took a back seat to Brook Lopez in Game 1 and was one of six Bucks players in double digits in Game 2. 

On the other hand, Toronto has relied on Kawhi Leonard to come up with a string of impressive offensive outings in order to get to this point of the postseason.

The Raptors are going to need another remarkable offensive display from Leonard in order to pull off a Game 3 victory, but he can't be the only top scorer. 

Morry Gash/Associated Press

Kyle Lowry has come alive in the series as scoring support to Leonard, but Pascal Siakam's point total has dipped while that has happened. Siakam is averaging 11.5 points per game in the series, which simply is not good enough for the No. 2 seed in the East. 

Toronto needs Leonard, Lowry, Siakam and possibly a fourth player from the starting lineup or bench to put Milwaukee's defense under pressure. 

In Game 5 of the second-round series against Philadelphia, Toronto easily beat the 76ers because it had six players score in double digits. 

If the Raptors can put together a similar performance to Game 5 against Philadelphia Sunday, they will be able to snatch the momentum in the series. 

But until Toronto proves it can have a well-rounded scoring approach on a consistent basis, it is hard to pick against a Milwaukee team that has established itself as the best in the Eastern Conference during the regular season and playoffs.

Prediction: Milwaukee 105, Toronto 99

                   

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.

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