The Suns dominated the Bucks on Tuesday night and will try to take a 2-0 series lead when these teams meet on Thursday. However, Milwaukee will be out to even the score so it might not go as planned. Let’s analyze this Game 2 showdown and keep cashing our NBA picks!
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Phoenix Suns
Thursday, July 8, 2021 – 9:00 PM ET at Phoenix Suns Arena
The Suns not only won the game but outscored Milwaukee in all quarters except the last one. By that time, it was too little too late for the Bucks. When the final buzzer sounded, the Suns emerged with a 118-105 victory and a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
Phoenix’s Chris Paul led all scorers with 32 points and had nine assists while Devin Booker bucketed 27 points and was credited with six assists and three steals. And as good as CP3 and Booker were, the powerhouse in the paint, Deandre Ayton, was immense with 19 rebounds and 22 points.
“We’ve been building all season long for these moments,” Paul said. “We’re going to keep playing. This is just one game. We’ve got to stay locked in.”
“Their pick-and-roll game is tough to guard,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I think we’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ll look at the film. We’ll see how we can maybe take away some of the rhythm.”
The Greek Freak Returns
There was quite a bit of uncertainty concerning the return of Milwaukee’s two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, but after getting medical clearance to suit up for Game 1 he was a force down low for the Bucks, hauling in 17 boards and scoring 20 points on the night. Fellow All-Star, Khris Middleton, led all Milwaukee scorers with 29 points and had seven rebounds of his own.
Giannis had been sidelined after playing 24 minutes of Game 4 against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals before limping off the court with a hyperextended knee. And while
Milwaukee would go on to lose that game which evened the series at two games apiece, the Bucks would subsequently roll over the Hawks in the next two games without their superstar, and advance to the NBA Finals where they now find themselves down 1-0 to the Suns.
“We know it’s not going to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough,” Middleton said. “There’s times where we’re going to be down in this series. But this series isn’t over. We’re down. We’ve still got to keep competing and just playing.”
After the Game 1 defeat, Antetokounmpo talked about his knee, “I’m trying my best to not make it about my knee, but I’m going to say one more time that my knee felt good,” said Antetokounmpo. “Obviously when you go and play a game, you never know what’s going to happen. … At the end of the day, I’m out there. I felt good. I don’t feel pain. I can run. I can jump. I can set screens. I can rebound the ball. I can do stuff.”
Wanna Make a Bet?
Jrue Holiday faded fast once Giannis returned to action and scored just 10 points in Game 1 while going 0-for-4 from beyond the arc and shooting just 28.6 percent from the field. He will have to do much better than that if the Bucks are to have a shot at upending this young and talented Suns team led by their veteran sage on the mountaintop, Chris Paul.
But after perusing the NBA odds at all of the best online sportsbooks I suspect we will see a more focused Holiday and an inspired Bucks team that came out flat in the first half. If you look at the Game 1 numbers you will see that the field goal percentage was just a hair in favor of the Suns (46.6% vs. 45.5%) while the Bucks hit a whopping 44.4 percent from three-point land versus just 32.4 percent for the Suns. Milwaukee even had a slight rebound advantage garnering 47 boards to 43 for Phoenix.
However, they also had five more turnovers than the Suns and were outplayed in the first three quarters. Yet, in the fourth quarter, they did outscore the Suns, 29-26. But that was garbage time for the Bucks and it’s not surprising they edged the Suns in the final frame.
Nevertheless, the books are giving us +5 ½ across the board at the time of this early Thursday morning writing. But perhaps if we wait just a bit longer the squares will keep banging the Suns which will move the needle on the road dog so we can eke out that extra half-point. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury and will grab the 5 ½ with Milwaukee and watch them keep this one very close.
NBA Pick: Bucks +5 ½ at BetMGM