After dropping the first two games of the NBA Finals, Milwaukee (61-33 SU, 45-49 ATS) has stormed back to win the next three and could clinch the championship tonight on its home court. The Bucks opened as 5-point favorites over Phoenix (65-28, 55-36-2), which hasn’t lost four straight games all season.
Opening Odds Analysis
With all of the momentum on Milwaukee’s side, oddsmakers opened the Bucks as 5-point chalk — matching the most that either team has been favored by in this series. The Game 6 total is also the highest it’s been in the Finals after four of the first five games went OVER, including Saturday’s 123-119 shootout in Phoenix.
Phoenix News & Notes
The Suns have been a resilient bunch all year, evident in their league-best 24-12 SU record on the road, 14-6 ATS mark in their last 20 games following a SU loss, and the fact that they’ve lost three straight just twice all season. Unfortunately, one of those three-game losing streaks has come in the NBA Finals, and the gut-wrenching way they’ve lost the last two games has to make you wonder whether Phoenix can recover.
Don’t forget, Phoenix was just a few minutes away from taking a 3-1 series lead in Game 4, when the Suns held a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, and then saw a 16-point advantage slip away in Saturday’s Game 5. A big factor in those blown leads has been a lack of dependable scoring behind Devin Booker, who was a plus-12 in his 41 minutes of action in Game 5. In the limited time that Booker has been on the bench in this series, Phoenix has been outscored by 39 points.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see Booker get an even heavier workload tonight — as long as he can stay out of foul trouble, having committed five fouls in each of the last two games. Coach Monty Williams rode several other starters hard as well in Game 5, giving Deandre Ayton a career-high 45 minutes and playing Jae Crowder for 40.
Meanwhile, Chris Paul has not played more than 36 minutes in any of his last three outings, fueling whispers that he might be battling an undisclosed injury. Paul hasn’t scored more than 23 points since Game 1 of the series and has just one double-double in the Finals while averaging 3.6 turnovers per contest.
Milwaukee News & Notes
It’s been half a century since the Bucks franchise claimed the NBA championship, and there’ll be lots of pressure to clinch the title in front of their fans at Fiserv Forum, where Milwaukee has won 17 of its last 18 games. However, the Bucks have excelled at keeping their emotions in check during this postseason, something they’ve learned to do after past playoff disappointments.
It’s how they dug themselves out of a 2-0 hole in their playoff series against Brooklyn, then shook off a last-second defeat in Game 5 to win the final two games and reach the Eastern Conference final. They’ve done it again against Phoenix, rebounding from a pair of double-digit defeats to claim the last three games.
“It’s hard not to get ahead of yourself. But this is the time that you got to be the most disciplined,” Giannis Antetokounmpo told ESPN. “We cannot worry about having plans of celebrating. None of that, until it’s done.”
As much as Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday have keyed the series turnaround, Pat Connaughton has been an integral part as well. The backup guard hit four of his six field-goal attempts in Game 5, all from behind the arc, and is 8-for-17 from three-point range over the last three games. Despite coming off the bench, Connaughton has played at least 30 minutes in five of his last six outings.
Betting Pick: UNDER 222
After the teams combined to hit 27 of 47 three-pointers in Game 5, look for some shooting regression and increased defensive intensity tonight with the title on the line.
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