It’s on! The 2021 NBA Finals is ready to start this Wednesday, as the best of the East in the Milwaukee Bucks and the best of the West in the Phoenix Suns will lock horns in a best-of-seven series to determine which city will have an NBA championship parade this year. Read on for more about Game 1 of Bucks vs. Suns along with the odds and our picks.
Catch this game live on Wednesday, July 7, at 9 AM, Manila time
HOME TEAM: Phoenix Suns (0-0, 0-0 at home)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Paul
- SG: Devin Booker
- SF: Mikal Bridges
- PF: Jae Crowder
- C: Deandre Ayton
How about Chris Paul? The veteran guard has finally won a ticket to the grandest stage of professional basketball after helping the Suns edge the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.
Paul dropped 41 points and dished out eight dimes in the series-clinching win against the Clippers. Paul did all that in the face of the likes of Patrick Beverley and Paul George, two of the best defenders in the league today. That’s an encouraging sign for the Suns, as Paul is going to deal with another defensive stalwart in Holiday a lot in the Finals.
Meanwhile, Phoenix needs Devin Booker to be himself in order to lighten up the defensive focus on Paul and vice versa. So far in the playoffs, Booker is making 27.0 points on 44.4 FG% and 34.4 3FG%. It’s also worth mentioning the roles of the Suns’ supporting cast.
The series could come down to which team will have the better role players, which brings to mind the Suns’ duo of Torrey Craig and Jae Crowder. Craig is pacing the Suns in the playoffs with an 11.8 net rating, while Crowder, who’s playing over 30 minutes per game, has a 10.3 net rating.
The Suns are 4-0 ATS in their last four games after three or more days of rest.
ROAD TEAM: Milwaukee Bucks (0-0, 0-0 on the road)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Jrue Holiday
- SG: Khris Middleton
- SF: PJ Tucker
- PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo (day-to-day)
- C: Brook Lopez
As of this writing, it remains to be ascertained whether Giannis Antetokounmpo would indeed play in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Assuming that he does, that would be a huge boost for the Bucks. If not, the Bucks still have enough in their armory to make life hard for Phoenix.
With Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez playing at a high level and keeping Milwaukee’s head above water since Antetokounmpo went down with a knee injury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks. In Games 5 and 6 of that series, Middleton averaged 29.0 points, Holiday 26.0, and Lopez 23.0.
All three are multi-level scorers. Middleton has his deadly perimeter game, while Holiday has been doing damage from in and out of the shaded area. Lopez can be the biggest x-factor for the Bucks. With his range, he can lure Deandre Ayton away from the paint. His defense has also gotten a lot better in the playoffs. He had a defensive rating of 111 in the regular season. This postseason? He’ll enter the Finals with a 104 d-rating.
The Bucks have gone 4-1 the spread over their last five games overall.
Spread: The Bucks have been playing well without Giannis Antentokounmpo. We’re not saying that it’s better for them to have the Greek Freak sit out Game 1 because that’s just silly, but with it without him, I’m taking the Bucks to cover (+5.0).
Over/Under: No player from either team has had experience winning the championship before. Finals jitters could play a huge part in the scoring. Take the Under (218.5)