Milwaukee (0-1) at Phoenix (1-0)
When: Thursday, July 8th, 2021
Where: Phoenix Suns Arena,
Time: 9:05 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Phoenix -5.5/221.5
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is in the books and it was a rather easy win for the Phoenix Suns over the Milwaukee Bucks. Even with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo back in the lineup, Milwaukee couldn’t keep up offensively with the Suns backcourt duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Phoenix easily covered the 5-point spread 118-105 and are 5-point favorites once again for Game 2 with a total of 219.5. The home team has won Game 1 of the NBA Finals everyone year but one since 2005 – including when the Los Angeles Lakers were the “home team” in Game 1 of the 2020 Finals in the Orlando bubble. Milwaukee is 2-1 in Game 2s this postseason, with the two victories at home and one loss in Brooklyn in the East semifinals. That was also the lone series in which the Bucks trailed 2-0. Phoenix is 2-1 in Game 2s and all three games were at home. The Suns also won both regular-season meetings vs. the Bucks and have now covered the spread four straight overall in the series. The big difference on Tuesday was the trio of Paul, Booker and Deandre Ayton going a perfect 20-for-20 from the free throw line. The teams will have an extra day of rest with Game 3 set for Sunday night in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo was pretty good in Game 1 despite being listed as doubtful that morning because of a hyperextended left knee, finishing with 20 points and 17 rebounds. The Greek Freak needed more help from star teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who totaled just 39 points while shooting 5-for-16 from 3-point land. Antetokounmpo was the only Bucks starter with a positive plus/minus rating, albeit only +1. Every other starter was at least -11. Middleton managed to score 29 points, but it took him 26 shots to do so. Center Brook Lopez had 17 points but was awful on defense. Bobby Portis, who had started the previous two games, had five points off the bench. Milwaukee is 4-0 ATS in its past five following an ATS loss.
In his first-ever NBA Finals game, veteran point guard Chris Paul was spectacular with 32 points (all after the first quarter) on 12-for-19 shooting and nine assists in 37 minutes. Paul scored or assisted on 54 points, the third-most points scored or assisted on in a player’s Finals debut. Booker had 27 points and his 10 made free throws were more makes than the Bucks had as a team. Phoenix outscored Milwaukee by 16 points from the foul line. Ayton was 8-for-10 shooting for 22 points with 19 rebounds. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in NBA history with at least 20 points and 15 rebounds on 80 percent shooting in their Finals debut. The Suns also got 10 points each from reserves Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne. The Suns are 6-0-1 against the spread in their last seven games following a win of more than 10 points.
The Bucks are making a habit out of losing Game 1 of a playoff series, but still managing to stay in it. I expect Milwaukee to get a better game out of both Middleton and Holiday and keep this one close.
Check out who Bobby Babowski has on his Free NBA Picks page for today.
Pick: Bucks +5