- The Phoenix Suns will battle the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals
- Giannis Antetokounmpo has not played since a leg injury in Game 4 of the East Finals
- Read below for opening series odds analysis and a prediction
Hands up if your bingo card read Milwaukeee vs Phoenix in the 2021 NBA Finals. Ditto.
Yet here we are in a batte of franchises in unfamiliar territory. Phoenix, who missed the playoffs in the previous 10 seasons, is seeking its first franchise chip in their first Finals appearance since 1993. Meanwhile, the Bucks haven’t hoisted the trophy since 1971, when Lew Alcindor was starring for them. They last made the Finals in 1974.
As it stands right now, the Suns are the healthier sqaud, and the rightful favorite in the NBA Finals odds.
Bucks vs Suns Opening Series Odds
|Team||Odds at PointsBet|
Odds as of July 3
|Promo: $1,000 Risk-Free Bet||Learn More|
|Promo: Up to $1,050 Free!||Learn More|
|Promo: $1,000 Risk-Free Bet||Learn More|
Game 1 is set for July 6 at 9pm ET. Let’s break down this series and how you should be angling your wager.
Health is Wealth
For a guy snakebitten for much of his playoff career with inopportune injuries at the worst times, Chris Paul is making the most of this run. After a first quarter shoulder injury in Game 1 against the Lakers and then a COVID protocol takedown to start the West Finals, Paul seems clear of the injuries and he’s his most devastating self.
CHRIS. PAUL. SHEESH. 😧 pic.twitter.com/uTjAZiSBlA
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 1, 2021
He blasted the Clippers out of the playoffs with a devastating 41-point, 8-assist, 4-rebound closing Game 6. Paul poured in 31 in the second half, and put together a dizzying array of offense ending with buckets on buckets.
GIANNIS 1st NBA FINALS. Never gave up on Milwaukee. 😤😤😤 pic.twitter.com/0AezWr3DGq
— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) July 4, 2021
On the other end, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status is still in limbo. To be honest, it’s still shocking to hear that his gruesome leg injury had no structural damage, but he hasn’t played since going down late in the third quarter of Game 4 of the East Finals.
The Bucks were never pushed to the brink, but had Milwaukee been staring down elimination, it’s likely he’d have worked his way into the lineup.
By the Numbers
Offensively, the Bucks are 10th in scoring these playoffs (109.3) with the Suns right behind them in 11th, at 108.9 points a night. They’re also the top two defensive teams in the postseason in points allowed. Phoenix surrendered just 101.9 points per game across their first three series, while Milwaukee sits at a stout 103.5 points.
This Jrue Holiday finish was TOUGH 😤 pic.twitter.com/Dd0TJrctiP
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) July 4, 2021
Some figures that could be key in this matchup: the Bucks are second in the playoffs in points in the paint at 51.8 and are first in offensive rebounding, grabbing 12.8 a night.
Good lord, man. This defense. pic.twitter.com/E6xL0yyBID
— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) June 20, 2021
Phoenix is shooting an above-average 37.3% from downtown, while Milwaukee is fifth-best defending the three-ball, holding teams to 34.2% shooting. The Bucks are also fifth-worst in turnovers at over 13 a contest, while Phoenix is third in these playoffs in generating points off turnovers.
How They Match Up
There will be some intriguing matchups. Jrue Holiday is the NBA’s best guard defender, and he’ll likely get the CP3 assignment. That would leave PJ Tucker bodying up Devin Booker.
Deandre Ayton is having one of the best games of his life. Dominant defense in the paint, altering everything. And doing all that’s asked of him on offense—screening, rolling, finishing. The turnaround jumper could be a preview of his future with the Suns. pic.twitter.com/aHYbFgmvVJ
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 27, 2021
Deandre Ayton has been spectacular in the middle, averaging 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting a blistering 70.6% from the field. Brook Lopez will have his hands full.
Khris Middleton is ON FIRE.
— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2021
Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges will also be splitting time between Giannis and Khris Middleton, the latter who’s coming off a primetime closing performance in Game 6 against the Hawks. He finished with 32 points and seven assists, including a game-shifting 23-point third quarter to blow the game open.
Given the information we have, this seems like the right opening series odds. But all playoffs, the results have been volatile. Chalk that up to teams that aren’t familiar with these rarified settings.
What a moment for Chris Paul and Monty Williams 🙏 pic.twitter.com/pIG3gW9KSF
— ESPN (@espn) July 1, 2021
If you’re leaning to the Bucks, jump on that figure now, as Giannis’ return should shorten the Milwaukee odds. If Phoenix is your play, it’s possible taking the Suns in an exact outcome wager offers better odds. Though -170 is a decent figure as well.
For my money, Phoenix boasts a more complete roster with Paul, Booker and Cam Payne able to generate consistent offense. Monty Williams has also shown better ability to adjust in-game vs Mike Budenholzer. Playing at these high stakes, that’s a huge advantage.