The road team has yet to win a game during the NBA Finals. Phoenix seized control of the series by winning the first two games but the Bucks have stolen the momentum after defending their home floor with back-to-back wins.
Tied at two games apiece, can Phoenix bounce back with a win at home versus Milwaukee in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night?
Middleton, Antetokounmpo Lead Bucks to Game 4 Win
Khris Middleton came up clutch on Wednesday night, scoring 40 points to lead Milwaukee to a 109-103 victory at home over the Suns in Game 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists on the night. He also added three steals and two blocks, including a game-changing block on an alley-oop attempt to Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton late in the fourth quarter.
CLUTCH BLOCK BY GIANNIS 😱 pic.twitter.com/jwB0b75o65
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 15, 2021
The Bucks trailed by as many as nine points in the final frame but rallied thanks in large part to Middleton, who took over offensively down the stretch. With the Bucks trailing 99-97 with 2:30 remaining, Middleton riled off a personal 8-0 run and scored the Bucks’ next 10 points to send the series back to Phoenix tied 2-2.
The Bucks were frustrated by the whistle in the opener, when the Suns shots 26 free throws to Milwaukee’s 16 and Khris Middleton didn’t get there once.
They’re the NBA’s best team at defending without fouling, so this is a crucial factor. So I ASKED about it (not baited, Bud:) pic.twitter.com/m6awfbWpzn
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) July 8, 2021
The Bucks’ All-Star shooting guard has now made 15 game-tying or go-ahead baskets in the fourth quarter or overtime during Milwaukee’s playoff run, tying LeBron James for the most clutch baskets in a single postseason over the last 25 years. With at least two games remaining to determine an NBA Champion, Middleton seems destined to break the all-time mark.
Using scrappy perimeter defenders and a commitment to defending the 3-ball, Milwaukee has also found a way to flip the momentum on the other end of the floor as well. While Jrue Holiday may be struggling on offense, he’s spent more time and energy guarding Chris Paul over the last few games. Holiday’s ability to fight through screens has helped the Bucks defend the pick-and-roll and shrink the floor, allowing Milwaukee’s help defenders to stay closer to Suns’ shooters. Per NBA.com, the Bucks have limited opponents to just 106.4 points per 100 possessions during the NBA Playoffs, the best mark in the postseason.
Paul Apologizes for Costly Turnovers Following Game 4
Devin Booker scored 42 points on 17-for-28 shooting but it wasn’t enough for the Suns in a 109-103 loss versus the Bucks on Wednesday. Jae Crowder had 15 points while Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson finished with 10 points apiece in the Game 4 loss. Phoenix also got next to nothing from big man DeAndre Ayton on offense. While Ayton stuffed the stat sheet with 17 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, he finished with a pedestrian six points on the night.
For the second straight contest, the Suns went ice cold from 3-point range. Since knocking down 20 of their 40 3-point attempts in Game 2, the Suns have connected on just 16-for-54 from beyond the arc (29.6 percent) over the last two games combined. They shot 7-for-23 from behind the long line as a team on Wednesday night but Paul and Booker combined to go 0-for-5 from deep.
Chris Paul : 10 points (5-13 shooting & no FT attempts), 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 turnovers & 4 fouls in 37 minutes pic.twitter.com/sEpU443B91
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) July 15, 2021
Normally one of the most reliable ball handlers in the NBA, turnovers have been a problem for Paul during Phoenix’s two losses. He slipped and lost the ball late in the deciding moments of Game 4, a gaffe that cost the Suns a chance to tie the game and directly led to a Bucks’ layup on the other end with under 30 seconds remaining. Wednesday’s loss may have been a low point in Paul’s season as well. It marked the first time this year in which he had at least five turnovers and shot under 40 percent from the field. While Paul has developed a reputation for closing out games, Phoenix turned the ball over 17 times and blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 4, evoking memories of his checkered playoff past.
Suns fans may have also noticed that there has been a disparaging discrepancy in free throw attempts between the two teams over the last two games. In Games 3 and 4, Milwaukee went to the free-throw line 55 times while Phoenix racked up just 35 combined free throw attempts in back-to-back losses.
The Suns tightened things up on defense in Game 4 before blowing the lid open in the fourth quarter. Phoenix limited the Bucks to just 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 24.1 percent shooting from 3-point range but allowed 33 fourth-quarter points on the night. According to NBA.com, Phoenix ranks third in the NBA Playoffs with a 108.1 defensive rating in 20 postseason games.
NBA Finals Betting Preview
The Suns enter Game 5 favored by four points at home and the projected total is set at a modest 218 points, the lowest number since the start of the NBA Finals. Bovada sportsbook has set the Suns as money line favorites with -165 odds while money line bettors can squeeze a little more value out of the Bucks at +145.
NBA Betting Trends
Trends can be valuable information for bettors looking to improve their NBA betting strategy.
Below is a short list of trends for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
- Bucks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Bucks are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Suns are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 2 days rest.
NBA Finals Betting Predictions
Before we lay out our predictions and analysis for Saturday’s contest, let’s review how we performed in Game 4.
Game 4 Recap:
Money Line: Milwaukee Bucks (-185) ✅
Spread: Milwaukee Bucks -4.5 ( -110) ✅
Total: Under 220.5 ( -110) ✅
Props: Giannis Antetounmpo to record a triple-double (+1450) ❌
We selected the Bucks to win on the money line and cover -4.5 as well as the game to stay under the projected 220 point total. All three of those selections were winners while our long-shot props bet for Giannis Antetokounmpo to record a triple-double at +1450 came up just short, as he finished two assists shy of the feat on the night.
Below, you can find more NBA betting predictions and analysis for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals Game 5 Spread Prediction:
Each of these teams has defended their home court in this series and the home team has also covered the spread in all four matchups. The Bucks have also struggled on the road against Phoenix, failing to cover the spread in each of the previous five meetings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Look for those trends to come to an end here, as Phoenix comes into this game favored by a healthy four-point spread. Game 4 came down to the wire, so there should be a little value with taking the Bucks with the points in this spot. Phoenix has found ways to lose in each of the last two games and the Suns’ young roster has been wildly inconsistent through the first four contests. All the pressure is on Phoenix in this game. Look for the Bucks to cover the spread on the road in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night.
NBA Finals Game 5 Money Line Prediction:
Milwaukee looks to have a major advantage on offense in this series. Not only are the Bucks more dangerous from the outside but they also have a considerable advantage in the paint as well. Antetokounmpo and Middleton are starting to look comfortable getting to their spots against the Suns’ defense, which helped Milwaukee overcome a poor shooting performance from 3-point range in Game 4. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in Wednesday’s win, something which seems bound to change as the series wears on. Take the Bucks to win on the money line and take a 3-2 series lead in Phoenix on Saturday.
NBA Finals Game 5 Total Prediction:
This game is projected for only 218 points, which is the lowest total that bettors have gotten during the NBA Finals. According to dunksandthrees.com, these two teams land at opposite ends of the pace spectrum, which should keep the pace in check on Sunday. Milwaukee finished the regular season ranked second in the NBA in pace and average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, Phoenix ranked near the bottom of the league, coming in at 25th in pace and 21st in average possession length, respectively. However, there should still be some value on the over in this matchup. With the Suns playing at home, look for that free throw discrepancy to even itself out a bit, which should help add some points to Phoenix’s total in this game. Both teams also shot poorly from beyond the arc in Game 4, so look for some positive regression in that department after a few days off. Bet on Game 5 of the NBA Finals to go over the projected total on Saturday night.
NBA Finals Game 5 Player Props:
Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholtzer seems to have found something with his small-ball lineups against the Suns. As a result, unsung hero Pat Connaughton has earned a healthy dose of minutes off of the bench during the NBA Finals. The 28-year-old has attempted six 3-pointers per game during the NBA Finals and is knocking them down at a healthy 46.8 percent clip. He’s hit at least two 3-pointers in all four games and is getting a healthy -120 odds to knock down two 3-pointers in Game 5. Take Pat Connaughton to go over -1.5 3-pointers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday evening.