Milwaukee (0-0) at Phoenix (0-0)
When: Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
Where: Phoenix Suns Arena,
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Phoenix -6/217
We have finally arrived at the NBA Finals. Not many people would have predicted this but the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns don’t care. Game 1 of the Finals is set for Tuesday night in Phoenix after both teams finished their Conference Championship series’ in six games. This will be Milwaukee’s first appearance in the Finals since 1974, while Phoenix is looking to win their first NBA Championship since 1993. The Suns are 5.5-point favorites to win Game 1 with a total of 217. There’s not much recent history between these teams, but both games played this season were terrific. Phoenix won 125-124 at home on Feb. 10 and again on April 19 in Milwaukee, 128-127 in overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the best player on either team both times, scoring 47 points in the February game and a game-high 33 points in the April game. Unfortunately, Antetokounmpo has been ruled out for Game 1 due to a left knee injury. He hyperextended the knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals and has not played since. The Bucks still won the final two games of the conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. The Suns have worked through their own injury issues as well with point guard Chris Paul working his way back from a shoulder injury in the first round and a COVID-19 hiatus in the beginning of the West finals.
Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in this series and the Bucks are just 8-5 without him in the lineup this year. He’s averaging 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game this postseason. Khris Middleton has been picking up the slack. Playing without Antetokounmpo, Middleton finished two assists shy of a triple-double in Game 5 against Atlanta and led the Bucks in the closeout Game 6 with a game-high 32 points. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez have also stepped up since Giannis went down. Holiday had 27 points in the series-clinching win in Game 6 against Atlanta, while Lopez chipped in 13. The Bucks are 5-1 against the spread in their last six games when their opponent surrenders 100 points or more in their previous game.
Booker leads Phoenix with 27 points per game, while also averaging 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He’s also shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 34.4 from 3-point range. Booker averaged 34.3 points in the Suns’ three closeout games against the Lakers, Nuggets and Clippers. In Chris Paul’s 16-year career, his 41-point barrage against the Clippers in Game 6 might go down as one of his best. Deandre Ayton, meanwhile, is putting up 16.2 points on 70.6 percent shooting from the field. Without Giannis in the Milwaukee lineup, Ayton might be a force. The Suns are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games playing after three or more days of rest.
We don’t have a lot of Finals experience in this series and that will cause both teams to be a little tight in Game 1. Defense will rule the opener, so I’ll take the under.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: UNDER 218.5