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Suns Favored to Stay Hot vs Bucks in Game 2

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks look to get back on track and pick up a win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

After drawing first blood in the NBA Finals with a double-digit win in Game 1, Phoenix (64-25 SU, 54-33-2 ATS) opened as a 5.5-point favorite to take a 2-0 series lead tonight. Milwaukee (58-32, 42-48) has lost six of the last seven meetings overall and is 0-4 ATS in its last four in Phoenix. 

Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns
  • Date/Time: July 8, 9 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Phoenix Suns Arena
  • TV Coverage: ABC
  • Opening Odds: Suns -5.5 | O/U 221.5 (Line History)
  • Bucks vs Suns Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

After covering as 5-point favorites in Game 1, the Suns opened as 5.5-point chalk in Game 2. Oddsmakers bumped the total up a couple of points after Tuesday’s contest went OVER the total, but the line had been bet down to 219.5 by the time of writing.

Milwaukee News & Notes

Despite losing the Finals opener, the Bucks had to feel good about what they saw from Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was upgraded from doubtful to questionable hours before tipoff. The Greek Freak showed no lingering effects from the hyperextended knee he suffered in the Eastern Conference final against Atlanta, scoring 20 points, securing 17 rebounds and even recording a monster chase-down block in 35 minutes of action.

However, Milwaukee does have a few things to shore up if it’s going to square up the series, starting at the free-throw line. The Bucks sent Phoenix to the charity stripe 26 times – the second-most foul shots they’ve surrendered in the playoffs – while generating just 16 attempts of their own. Even worse, 12 of those 16 foul shots were by Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton didn’t get to the line once.

“We’ve got to keep them off the free-throw line and we’ve got to be more aggressive attacking and getting to the free-throw line,” coach Mike Budenholzer told ESPN.

The Bucks also need to find some defensive answers that will allow their big men to stay on the court, particularly Brook Lopez, who was minus-17 in just 22 minutes of action. Fortunately, Milwaukee has done a good job recently at cracking down defensively following a defeat, going 8-1 to the UNDER in its last nine after a SU loss. The Bucks have also covered their last four games after failing to cover in their previous outing.

Phoenix News & Notes

After averaging less than 93 points during a three-game span in the Western Conference final, the Suns offense is humming again. Phoenix exploded for 130 points to close out the Clippers in Game 6 of that series, then hung 118 on the Bucks to open the NBA Finals. To no surprise, Chris Paul has been the catalyst to that increased production, scoring 73 points in those two games and shooting 11-for-19 from behind the arc.

Although he’s known for preferring to slow things down, Paul might now actually be trying to play at a quicker pace, telling the Arizona Republic that lead assistant Willie Green wants the Suns to get the ball over the half-court line with 20 seconds or more left on the shot clock. That aggressive strategy might help explain how Phoenix scored 20 points off the fast break in the series opener, nearly double what it has averaged per game in the playoffs.

Phoenix was also nearly perfect from the free-throw line Tuesday, hitting its first 25 attempts, and got 27 points from Devin Booker, 22 points and 19 rebounds from Deandre Ayton, and at least 10 points from three other players.

However, the win came at a price as Dario Saric tore the ACL in his right knee, hurting Phoenix’s frontcourt depth. Torrey Craig, Frank Kaminsky and Abdel Nader are all considered options to fill in for Saric, who was averaging more than 11 minutes per game in the playoffs.

Betting Pick: Bucks +5.5

With Giannis’ health no longer a concern, look for Milwaukee to bring a strong and determined effort to square up the series.

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Shark Bites
  • Phoenix is 11-3 ATS in its last 14 games.
  • The total has gone OVER in each of the last 5 meetings.
  • Milwaukee is 1-6 SU and ATS in its last 7 games vs Phoenix.