The Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks to go toe-to-toe; pump-to-pump in Game 1 of a potential seven-game NBA Finals series, beginning tonight at 9 pm EST.
Just two points separated these teams over two regular-season games, leaving us all perched for an incredible fortnight of closely contested NBA action – not to mention a tough time making the right calls at our favored NBA sportsbooks.
Read on, as we attempt to make sense of the latest odds and offer our hot tips for Game 1 of the NBA Finals: Bucks vs. Suns!
Future Hall-of-Famer Chris Paul is set to make his first NBA Finals appearance for a Suns team that hasn’t come this far since the glory days of Charles Barkley and Steve Nash. Paul and co. will have the chance to bring the championship back to Phoenix for the very first time.
The Milwaukee Bucks have been threatening a Finals appearance for the last several years – Giannis Antetokounmpo has been incredible throughout Bucks’ modern charge but, despite his efforts, Milwaukee kept coming up short, so just to make it to the game’s showpiece event must be a relief for Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer.
Bucks fans will be hoping that “The Greek Freak” is at peak physical condition for this one – Giannis suffered a bad-looking hyperextension of the knee when he landed awkwardly in Game 4 vs. the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 2x MVP is expected to feature in the series but the true extent of his injury is under wraps for now. He is 50/50 for Game 1 this evening.
In the meantime, it’s Jrue Holiday vs. Paul; the Bucks vs. the Suns – it’s the 2021 NBA Finals, and it’s LIVE tonight!
Get yourself a rootbeer and join us as we run a comb over all the vital betting stats.
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks Preview
Phoenix: The Suns returned to the kind of scoring form we saw from them during the regular season in Games 5 & 6 vs. the L.A. Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.
Monty Williams’ men averaged 123 points per game – much more like it. In fact, in Game 6, Phoenix shot field goals at 56.6% and 3-pointers at 54.8%, with Chris Paul (41 points) and Devin Booker (22 points) especially clinical as the Suns ran out 4-2 winners. Paul and Booker were helped in no short measure by an astonishing performance at the rim from Deandre Ayton who hauled in an impressive 17 rebounds!
During the regular season, the Suns squared off against the Bucks on two separate occasions, winning narrowly both times: 125-124 in Phoenix, and 127-128 in Milwaukee. So, these two teams could not be closer in terms of ability. But, entering the finals knowing that you’ve bested your opponents twice already this year must be a real confidence booster for a Suns team at full-strength.
With a W/L record of 33-11 at the Phoenix Suns Arena during the regular season, the home-court advantage for the first two games is also expected to put the Suns on the rise in the series.
Milwaukee: As for the Bucks, the team persevered against a young and spunky Atlanta Hawks to clinch their finals appearance. But at what cost?
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s leg looked bent in all the wrong ways in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks held their own to banish the Hawks without their talisman. But no team wants to go into the finals missing its best player or having its best player severely incapacitated.
Fingers crossed – for the legitimacy of the series – that Giannis makes it and is able to perform as we know he can.
In Antetokounmpo’s absence, big performances came from Brook Lopez, who sunk 33 points in Game 5, and Khris Middleton, whose 23-point third-quarter haul finally put an end to a plucky Hawks team in Game 6.
In that most recent game, the Bucks upped their 3-point shooting percentage to 37.8% (17/45) but, compared to the Suns’ 54.8%, well, it’s unlikely they’ll want to get stuck in a long-distance shootout, let’s just put it like that. Bucks need to hit the paint and if Giannis can’t suit up, another big performance is going to be required from Lopez. But to cast further doubt, Jae Crowder’s D has been unreal throughout the playoffs and it could be a tough night for Holiday, Lopez, and co.
Add to that the fact that Milwaukee’s form away from the Fiserv Forum was hit or miss at 25-20 in the regular season and the playoffs, and it’s easy to see why the oddsmakers have the Suns coming to this one as betting favorites.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
With Giannis only at 50/50 for this opening tie of the NBA finals, it’s little surprise to see oddsmakers favoring the Suns, who also boast home-court advantage for the first two games of the series.
Game 1: Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Moneyline Odds)
Phoenix Suns: -250; Milwaukee Bucks: +205
Game 1: Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Points Spread)
Phoenix Suns: -6 (-114); Milwaukee Bucks: +6 (-108)
Game 1: Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Total Points)
Phoenix Suns: U219 (-109); Milwaukee Bucks: O219 (-112)
Prediction & Tips
If the Suns rock up and start shooting field goals and 3-pointers at 55%ish like they did vs. the Clippers in Game 6 last week, we don’t think the Bucks will be able to hang with them – especially not without Antetokounmpo (assuming he does in fact sit this one out).
Normally, we preach taking the underdog just to maximize the value on the odds, especially in a series as historically tight as the NBA Finals. But, the office is in agreement on this one: the Bucks don’t travel well and are missing their talisman. So, we expect a rough night.
As such, we’re vouching for Phoenix on the moneyline at -250, and the Bucks on the alternate spread at +4 (+125) to try and scrape some value from the bets.