The NBA Finals are here, and there are some opportunities for folks interested in a few guaranteed NBA bets.
If we learned anything from Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, it’s that Phoenix point guard Chris Paul is having a bigger, stronger, faster resurgence at 36-years-old than the Six Million Dollar Man could ever dream.
While he lacks the bionic trait of one Steve Austin, Paul has overcome several significant injuries to propel the Suns to a 1-0 series lead over the Bucks and just three wins away from hoisting his very first Larry O’ Brien trophy.
In his way are the down-but-never-out Bucks led by hobbled Giannis Antetokounmpo, who overcame his knee injury, returned to the lineup in Game 1, and posted 20 points and 17 rebounds in 35 minutes.
And while the “Greek freak” had solid offensive support from his castmates Kris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jrue Holiday, it was foul trouble that canceled the upset show for the 4.5-point pups Milwaukee on Tuesday.
Let’s take a look at this NBA Finals matchup from a betting perspective in our Suns vs. Bucks betting preview with odds, picks, and predictions.
Game 2, NBA Betting Odds
Here are the lines for Suns vs. Bucks at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Spread: Suns (-5 -112)
Moneyline: Suns (-210); Bucks (+170)
Game 2, NBA Betting Preview (July 8, 2021)
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As the best free-throw shooting team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns did not mishandle their opportunity, going 25 of 26 from the charity stripe, while the Bucks went a dismal 9 of 16 and, you guessed it, Antetokounmpo, who could make Shaq look like Mark Price from the free-throw line, went 7 of 12.
In every other department, the Suns and the Bucks matched up well, with a narrow margin cutting the two. Let’s not get this twisted, kids. This ain’t the Lighting vs. Canadiens. Both teams deserve to be here. Both teams are going to punch, fight and kick to give us the NBA Finals we deserve.
On to Game 2…
The betting favorite is naturally the home Phoenix Suns, who are throwing 5.5-points to the Bucks tonight.
The Suns are 7-2 at home in this postseason, and they are shooting over 47% from the field in each of those, failing to eclipse the 100-point plateau just once.
After beating the hell out of the Miami Heat in the first round for four games, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t exactly have a fair go of it on the road when getting smashed to bits by the Nets in the first two games of the Eastern semis. But like the subway scene in The Warriors, Milwaukee handed out a shocking beating in Brooklyn in Game 7, besting the Nets in overtime, holding them to just two points in that final five minutes of play.
The resilience of this Bucks team has been on full display ever since.
Knowing that Antetokounmpo – aside from his disturbingly awful saga from the free-throw line – is going to be fully healthy, the Bucks have a puncher’s chance of knotting things up tonight. However, it’ll be anything but academic.
The Bucks have gotten solid play out of Bobby Portis – now that Mike Budenholzer is finally playing the feisty Razorback – but that’s been pretty much it from the bench. Pat Connaughton (Pitt fans still hate that name) and Bryn Forbes have made as much movement this postseason as a slinky on an escalator – combining for 14 points in 40 minutes in Game 1 is a microcosm of that. But on the flip side, Cam Johnson and Cam Payne have been the only noisemakers coming off the bench for Phoenix lately.
All of that teaches us that this is a starter’s series, and right now, the Suns have the better five, but it’s not the landslide you think it is.
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Game 2, NBA Bets Prediction
Deandre Ayton is the X-factor in all of this. While Brook Lopez is getting the job done in the paint for Milwaukee, Ayton has been a machine. His 22-point, 19-rebound performance in Game 1 was a testament to what the big man from Arizona has been doing in the desert all year long for the Suns.
However, to silence Ayton means that Paul, Devin Booker, and Jae Crowder will all suffer in ripple effect fashion. Ayton’s ability to finish in the paint, extend possessions with rebounding, and set supreme high/low ball screens is a direct result of Paul, Booker, and Crowder’s point production. It’s on Lopez’s shoulders to be able to handle Ayton one-on-one so that a solid Milwaukee defense can keep a body on the outside shooters of Phoenix who have, combined, threw up the most three-point attempts of any postseason team, including 34 from beyond-the-arc on Tuesday.
The Game 2 NBA Bets We Love
If you know me, I hate trends. Betting trends are about as worthless as the government warnings on the side of cigarette packs. It’s what have you done for me lately, as in, this game right in front of us. The past is past. The future is now, so let’s light one up.
Deandre Ayton UNDER 16.5 points (-116 – Fanduel)
The Clippers gave a free-of-charge blueprint on stifling Ayton during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. They held the big man to 10 points in 37 minutes and did it without center Ivica Zubac. How? Tyronn Lue went to a four-guard starting lineup in Zubac’s absence, and well, the Clippers just sped the game up and left Ayton catching his breathe on the offensive end. And while the Suns did have 24 fast-break points in Game 1 of this series, it’s much different when your team is controlling tempo instead of the opposition controlling it.
Keeping Ayton from setting up shop in the half-court is key, and I’d expect the Bucks to pressure the hell out of Phoenix tonight and force them into early shots and fewer passes.
Giannis Antetokounmpo OVER 26.5 points (-110 – Draftkings)
If the Bucks are going to push tempo tonight, you better expect Giannis to have his way around the rim. Nobody can guard the big man when he puts his head down and drives to the rim. The only effective way to slow him down is to foul. I’d expect him to get plenty of shots up tonight, and if we get just a little bit more from him from the charity stripe, this prop should cash with no doubts.
Brook Lopez OVER 1.5 3-pointers (+176 – Fanduel)
You have to take chances to get chances, and while this is a risky bet, you’re in the right formulaic situation to make it that much more practical.
Lopez can do something Ayton cannot: stretch the floor in the half-court. His long-range abilities make him a menace to big men trying to defend him. Spacing will again be plentiful for this Stanford tree tonight, who splashed three 3-pointers in Game 1. Ayton, who will be guarding Lopez, is not exactly known for guarding players outside of the paint, and that is going to leave Lopez open for at least four or five attempts from beyond the arc. Now it’s just a matter of him knocking down two of those attempts.
Milwaukee Bucks +5 and to win (+176, FANDUEL)
Let’s go for the throat here. If Ayton gets silenced appropriately, let’s watch the dominoes fall and see the offensive production become that much more inconsistent for the Phoenix Suns. It has happened in these playoffs before. The Lakers and Clippers pieced together similar game plans that temporarily silenced the Suns in the offensive half court. Temporarily is all we need tonight, and the Bucks are the sound, defensive squad that can do that.
Pick: Bucks 108-100
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