Milwaukee Bucks (58-31 42-47 ATS) at Phoenix Suns (63–25 53-33-2 ATS)
The Bucks and the Suns won their respective conference finals in six games and this is a finals series that not many expected. Game 1 of this finals series can be seen on ABC.
For Game 1 in the desert the Suns are a 5.5-point favorite with the total sitting at 217. For the series oddsmakers have Phoenix as the favorite to win at -175 with the Bucks at +155.
The Bucks have not been to the finals since 1974 and their only title came in 1971 while the Suns are looking for their first title ever.
The big question for the Bucks entering this series is will star Giannis Antetokounmpo play? He missed the last two games of the last series with Atlanta with a hyperextended knee and he is listed as questionable for Game 1 of the finals.
The Suns took both games against the Bucks in the regular season and both games came down to the wire.
The Suns have been impressive in the playoffs but have also had some luck. They did not have to face Kawai Leonard in the last round against the Clippers and may not have to see the Greek Freak early in this series. In the regular season and playoffs Milwaukee was 8-5 without Antetokounmpo in the lineup.
The Suns are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games facing the Bucks.
Supporting Cast May Have to Carry the Load, Again
The Bucks won the last two games of the Eastern Conference finals without the Greek Freak and will have to carry the load again if he cannot go in Game 1.
In Milwaukee’s last game they ousted the Atlanta Hawks 118-107 where Kris Middleton went for 32 points and Jrue Holliday had 27 points. Middleton scored at least 26 points in three of the last four games, including the last two, and Holiday came up big in the last two games totaling 52 points, 23 assists, and 15 rebounds.
Brook Lopez came out strong in the last two games as well and his shooting will be key in this game to keep Suns’ C DeAndre Ayton out of the paint.
Milwaukee was the highest scoring team in the NBA on the season and in the last two games without their star still put up 123 points and 118 points respectively.
The Bucks are only 2-6 ATS in their last eight games as a road underdog.
Can the Old Man Cement Legacy?
Veteran Chris Paul is the leader of the Suns and if he can win the title it will really cement his legacy as one of the best point guards ever. In the 130-103 blowout win in Game 6 of the last series he came up huge going for 41 points. He had struggled with his shot in the previous three games and Jrue Holliday is a great defensive player that can cause Paul trouble.
Devin Booker has dealt with a broken nose in the last few games but in the playoffs has averaged 27 ppg as well as 6.4 rpg and 4.8 assists per game.
Ayton has averaged 16.2 ppg and 11.8 rpg in the playoffs and in two of his last three games has grabbed at least 17 boards. His play in the paint on both sides of the court will be key, as he needs to score inside to free up the perimeter for Paul and Booker. If he does not have to face the Greek Freak that task will be much easier.
The Bucks have a few long and tall perimeter defenders and Paul, Booker, and the Suns’ backcourt have to use good ball movement and feed Ayton in the paint.
The Suns have covered the spread in 10 of their last 13 games.
Both teams come into this game with confidence and that is especially the case for the Bucks winning the last two games without their star. I do not think Antetokounmpo will play in Game 1 and even if he does, he will not be 100%. The Suns will come out and play well in front of their killer home crowd but like the last two games the Bucks’ supporting cast will step up. This game will be like the two in the regular season in very close and because of that take the Bucks at the 5.5 points.
PICK: Bucks +5.5