We are finally here. We made it through the first - and hopefully only - COVID NBA season. Although the teams are limping into the Finals, we are still in for a great series. If you've been betting on games throughout this postseason, I hope you still have some funds left for the Finals. (If it's been a tough playoffs for you, sign up for our bet tracker waitlist, it will help you track bets, trends, bankroll and improve as a bettor)
Here I will have all the information you'll need heading into Game 1 on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Phoenix Suns (-200 to win the Championship)
Postseason W-L : 12-4 Regular Season W-L : 51-21
Postseason Against the Spread : 11-5 Regular Season Against the Spread : 42-29-1
Postseason Over/Under : 6-9-1 Regular Season Over/Under : 42-30
Western Conference Finals:
Defeated Clippers 4-2
Against the Spread : 3-3
Milwaukee Bucks (+165 to win the Championship)
Postseason W-L : 12-5 Regular Season W-L : 46-26
Postseason Against the Spread : 10-7 Regular Season Against the Spread : 32-40
Postseason Over/Under : 6-10-1 Regular Season Over/Under : 41-31
Eastern Conference Finals:
Defeated Hawks 4-2
Against the Spread : 3-3
Head to Head
2/10/21 : PHX 125 - 124
MIL -4 | O/U 229
Important to Note: Giannis had 47/11/5, Chris Paul scored 28, Devin Booker scored 30. Bucks were without Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker, but they had DiVincenzo (before he was injured) and Torrey Craig (now on PHX). PHX was without Cam Payne (injury), Dario Saric (injury), and Torrey Craig (was on MIL).
4/19/21 : PHX 128 - 127 (OT)
MIL -3 | O/U 233
Important to Note: Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday combined for 84 points, 19 rebounds, and 15 assists for the Bucks. 4 PHX starters scored over 20 points. The only player who played in this game that is unavailable is DiVincenzo.
This series really comes down to one thing. Giannis Antetokounmpo's health. The former MVP is coming off of a knee hyperextension in the conference finals which forced him to miss Games 5 and 6. He is supposedly progressing much faster than expected, but still could miss time in the finals.
If Giannis isn't back for the Bucks Game 1, his return in the middle of the series could throw a big wrench in things. Milwaukee had those 2 games in the Eastern Conference Finals to figure out how to win without their superstar, but that was also against a Hawks team that didn't have their own superstar Trae Young. Will Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday bring enough firepower offensively to beat a full-strength Suns team?
For Phoenix, they've had a lot of time to develop a defensive game plan for the Bucks. How does that change if Giannis isn't available to play? In some ways it makes playing defense harder because Milwaukee will be moving the ball more and not forcing the ball into Giannis' hands. Seeing how Phoenix struggled defensively against Giannis in their 2 regular season matchups, his potential return is a huge deal.
Matchups to Watch
- Chris Paul vs Jrue Holiday
2 of the best defensive point guards in the NBA. 2 guys who have never been on this stage before. Chris Paul has taken on a more offensive role on this team with all the solid defenders around him. Jrue Holiday is going to force him to expend some energy on that end. If Phoenix decides to hide CP3 on PJ Tucker on defense, this could help the 36-year old with fatigue.
- Devin Booker vs Bucks' Defense
This is going to be a battle. Milwaukee will probably throw a bunch of different bodies at Booker, like Holiday, Tucker, Middleton and Connaughton. Not only will Booker have to deal with a fresh body on defense every possession, he will have Brook Lopez waiting for him in the paint. It will be fun to watch Milwaukee's defensive adjustments as the series goes on, as well as Booker's adjustments on where he can get open shots.
- Brook Lopez vs DeAndre Ayton
Old vs young. 3 pointers vs dunks. Slow vs fast. There aren't 2 centers whose games could be more opposite of each other. Brook Lopez lumbers up and down the court, somehow still making an impact by changing his game to revolve around the 3-point line. He once was a prolific scorer in his days on the Nets, but now he is a screen-setter and 3-point shooter who makes an occasional post move. DeAndre Ayton lives in the paint. He too does not make post moves, but makes his impact on lobs, layups, and short jumpers. I think both of these guys will have good offensive series because the focus is going to be so heavy on the guards.
Game 1 Lines and Predictions
7/6/21 : MIL @ PHX
PHX -6 | Over/Under 218.5 | MIL +215 | PHX -275
The Suns are 33-11 at home combined in the regular season and playoffs. They are 28-16 against the spread in those games. They are 26-13 against the spread as a home favorite, and 31-8 overall as a home favorite. The total is 20-19 when the Suns are a home favorite.
The Bucks are 25-20 on the road combined in the regular season and playoffs. They are 19-26 against the spread in those games. They are 2-3 against the spread as an underdog on the road, as well as 2-3 overall. The total is 3-2 in games when the Bucks are a road underdog.
Everything points to Phoenix dominating Game 1 of this NBA Finals. As much as we would like to hope and pray that Giannis will be back, he has been listed as doubtful. We have to prepare for a full-strength Suns team to take on a Bucks team that just isn't the same without their superstar. Phoenix has a great home-court advantage and having reached the Finals for the first time since 1993 their fans are going to be going crazy with each bucket. It feels like the Bucks will need to put on the performance of a lifetime to win this one.
As for the spread and the total, if Phoenix wins I think they will win big. There's no reason to let Milwaukee back in any game that they take a big lead in, especially game 1. The Suns need to send a message that they are the better team with or without Giannis. Monty Williams is going to have his team going and have them in the right mindset. Everyone was waiting this postseason for Milwaukee to choke like they normally do. They fought so hard in their series against the Nets and the Hawks, 2 impressive series victories, but if Trae Young is healthy they might not be here. With the current roster that the Bucks have healthy, they just don't have the firepower. I think this will be a low scoring game where the Suns pull away in the second half and show the world they're here for a reason.
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