The Milwaukee Bucks took a different path but they finally reached the NBA Finals. After coming up short the previous two seasons despite having the NBA’s best regular season record, the Bucks qualified this year as the No. 3 seed.
They’ll take on the Phoenix Suns Tuesday in Game 1 of the championship series. Beating Atlanta in the last two Eastern Conference finals games without Giannis Antetokounmpo showed they are much more than just the two-time MVP. And while the Freak’s status remains in the air that’s no reason for the Suns to be overconfident. Phoenix opened as a 6-point favorite.
When and Where to Watch Game 1
Game 1 of the NBA Finals takes place on Tuesday, July 6, 2021 and will air live on ABC with tip off at 9 p.m. ET from Phoenix Suns Arena.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns Game 1 Odds
Spread: Bucks +6 | Suns -6 [BET NOW]
Money Line: Bucks +195 | Suns -235 [BET NOW]
Total: 216.5 [BET NOW]
Bucks So Far…
Having Antetokounmpo go down with his injury might have been the best thing that happened to the Bucks this postseason. It’s outrageous to say and a little crazy, but hear me out. With Giannis tearing up the Hawks in the East final, guys like Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday and Brooke Lopez played second fiddle.
That’s to be expected since it happened during the regular year. However, with Antetokounmpo on the shelf the Bucks needed their other big guns to show up more consistently and they did. They had no choice since Giannis wasn’t there to bail them out. And the Bucks are embracing the underdog role in this series since the Freak is expected to miss some of the series.
Suns So Far…
Just when some were ready to give up on the Suns they came through, much like they did all season. They rallied after losing Games 2 and 3 to the Lakers in the first round reeling off nine straight wins. It almost came too easy for them. With a chance to win the conference title at home they were humbled by the Clips in Game 5 and out came the critics. You don’t win 51 games during the regular season by getting lucky.
The Suns have plenty of talent and it was on full display. And the young club matured during the postseason and is the favorite to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time. Chris Paul is getting a lot of attention for making the Finals for the first time in his career. He was the veteran presence that brought the club together. But Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are the faces of the franchise.
Milwaukee Bucks Overview
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Bucks are better without Antetokounmpo. But individually they were able to do more as a team and that only helped Lopez, who went for 33 points in the Game 5 win over the Hawks. And Middleton and Holiday were phenomenal in the Game 6 clincher after each had bouts of inconsistency.
The Bucks won four of the last five games over Atlanta going 4-1 ATS and they are used to playing and winning on the road. They closed out each of the first three series with a road win and are 5-4 SU and ATS in away games.
The biggest story, though, has to be the play of Bobby Portis. Filling in for Giannis the last two games of the Atlanta series, Portis totaled 34 points. He played sparingly in the first three games and didn’t even see the floor in the final three games of the Nets series. He’s just another weapon the Suns will have to deal with.
Phoenix Suns Overview
The playoff schedule sure helped the Suns, who had a few extra days of rest while the Bucks were banging away with the Hawks. They also enjoyed some down time after sweeping the Nuggets in the second round. And the time off didn’t affect them against the Clips with Phoenix winning the first two games.
You have to start wondering, though, if the Suns are a team of destiny. They executed a brilliant play in the closing moments of Game 2 against the Clips and survived an awful shooting night in Game 4. They very easily could’ve lost those games, but they found a way to win, which is a mark of a true champion.
Let’s not anoint them just yet, though. Paul revealed he played the Clippers series with ligament damage in his shooting hand and Booker was wildly inconsistent when forced to wear a protective mask after breaking his nose.
And for some inexplicable reason Ayton was a non-factor in Game 5. But when they all play well the Suns are difficult to beat. Sore hand and all Paul dropped 41 on the Clips in the clincher.
Bucks vs Suns Game 1 Predictions
Our picks: Phoenix Suns -6 and OVER 216.5
The Bucks have been pretty good the past few years, but the Suns have had their number. Phoenix won both regular season meetings by one point each and they’ve won five of the last six meetings while going 6-1 ATS in the last seven. There’s always a team that no matter what gives another club a headache. The Suns are that team to Milwaukee and they will get the opener of the Finals.
View all the Bucks vs Suns Game 1 odds.