Experience won’t be an advantage for either team when the NBA Finals get underway tonight. The Suns (63-25 SU, 53-33-2 ATS) are making their first Finals appearance in 28 years, while the Bucks (58-31, 42-47) haven’t reached the NBA championship series since 1974. Phoenix opened as a 5.5-point favorite in Game 1.
Sportsbook Odds Analysis
Phoenix was an underdog in both of its wins over Milwaukee during the regular season, but uncertainty about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status and the Suns’ impressive playoff run led oddsmakers to open Phoenix as a sizable favorite in Game 1. The OVER has drawn plenty of interest among early bettors, ticking up to 218.5 at most sportsbooks at the time of writing.
Milwaukee News & Notes
Will he or won’t he? That’s the question everybody’s asking about the status of Antetokounmpo, who sat out the final two games of the Eastern Conference final after hyperextending his left knee in Game 4. Milwaukee has been predictably tight-lipped about the Greek Freak ever since, excusing him from media availability on Monday and listing him as day to day, so we might not know Antetokounmpo’s availability until tipoff.
The Bucks are hardly dead in the water without him, evident in how they dominated the final two games of their series against Atlanta. Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Bobby Portis and Jrue Holiday all scored at least 22 points in Milwaukee’s Game 5 victory, and Middleton added a game-high 32 on Saturday in the series clincher. Middleton scored 23 of those points in the third quarter, the third time he’s scored at least 20 points in a quarter in his playoff career.
If Antetokounmpo doesn’t suit up in the opener, or if he’s limited by the injury, Milwaukee could feel that impact most at the defensive end of the court against Phoenix’s pick-and-roll game. That could mean less playing time for Lopez if the Bucks choose to go with a smaller lineup to combat the speed of Chris Paul and Devin Booker.
Phoenix News & Notes
The Suns have certainly caught their fair share of lucky breaks during this postseason, facing the Lakers without Anthony Davis, the Nuggets without Jamal Murray and the Clippers without Kawhi Leonard. But just because they’ve had an easier path doesn’t mean Phoenix isn’t worthy of its first NBA Finals appearance in nearly three decades.
The Suns were the second-most profitable team to bet on during the regular season (42-28-2 ATS), and they’ve followed that up with an 11-5 ATS mark in these playoffs. Phoenix is also 11-2 SU and 10-3 ATS in its last 13 overall, is 34-16 ATS in its last 50 home games and has routinely stepped up against elite opposition, going 25-8-1 ATS in its last 34 games vs teams with a winning percentage of .600 or higher.
Phoenix is also 4-0 ATS in its last four games following three or more days off, a good omen for a Suns team that hasn’t played since finishing off the Clippers on Thursday. In fact, all that rest can only help the veteran Paul, who has had to overcome a shoulder injury, torn ligaments in his hand and COVID-19 during the Suns’ playoff run. Paul exploded for 41 points in the Suns’ last outing and enters this series as the favorite to win NBA Finals MVP.
Betting Pick: OVER 218.5
Both meetings during the regular season saw at least 230 points scored in regulation, and defensive intensity could be lacking a bit in the series opener.
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