The NBA Finals are set to tip-off tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Although the Milwaukee Bucks are suspected to be without star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, his doubtful tag inspires some hope that he’ll be back soon. Until then, expect books and bettors alike to favor Phoenix for this series.
1. Mikal Bridges Over 10.5 Points | -118 at FD Sportsbook
Bridges served a key role in Phoenix’s regular-season wins over Milwaukee. He finished the two matchups with point totals of 15 (Feb. 10) and 21 (Apr. 19), and he did so because of his accuracy from long range. Bridges went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in February and 5-for-7 in April — his third-highest number of made threes this season.
The season-long metrics suggest that Bridges’ success against Milwaukee was no fluke. The Bucks have struggled on the perimeter all year, as they allowed the most made threes per game in the regular season (14.8). Though their perimeter defense looked better in the back half of the Eastern Conference finals, as the Hawks averaged just 13.3 made threes per game after Game 3, that’s probably more due to Trae Young’s injury than because of improved defensive play from Milwaukee.
Bridges’ total sits well below the numbers he posted against the Bucks in the regular season because the Suns moved away from him in their series against the Clippers; he averaged just 8.7 points per game on 31.3 minutes in the Western Conference finals. However, Bridges spends 89% of his minutes at small forward, and the Clippers ranked second-best against the position. In contrast, the Bucks rank second-worst in points per game allowed to the position. Assuming Phoenix pivots back to what worked in the regular season, Bridges should feast.
2. Jae Crowder Over 10.5 Points | -110 at FD Sportsbook
I’ll double-down against Milwaukee’s perimeter defense by playing Crowder’s over tonight, too. While the Bucks have allowed lots of made threes to all positions this season, they’ve been especially bad against power forwards. They have allowed the second-most made threes per game to opposing fours (2.8), the position where Crowder spends 75% of his minutes.
Unlike Bridges, Crowder did not hit this over in both of his regular-season games against the Bucks. In fact, he never hit it at all — he ended those contests with point totals of 6 (Feb. 10) and 9 (Apr. 19). However, he has been averaging 10.4 points per game in the playoffs, and he should get plenty of chances from deep. He went 25% (4-of-12) from long range against the Bucks in the regular season, and that should regress closer to his season-long average of 38.9%.
FanDuel Sportsbook seems to agree with my assessment, as the line for Crowder to hit three three-pointers sits at -130 — good for 56.5% and the highest implied odds on the market. Crowder would just need an additional layup or a pair of free throws to cash this prop, and I suspect that he’ll do so if the Suns stick to what worked against Milwaukee in the regular season.
3. Bonus Plus Money Prop: Mikal Bridges Over 12.5 Points | +154 at FD Sportsbook
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