The NBA Finals tip off with Game 1 on Tuesday, and the heavyweight matchup between the Suns and Bucks figures to be a matchup for the ages. Both times these teams met in the regular season, the contests were decided by just one point in a pair of thrilling affairs. If you’re looking to bet this series, I’ve got you covered with some key stats, statistical leaders, and historical trends.
- Lost only one game at home this postseason (7-1), but lost four games on the road (5-4)
- Holds a 6-5 record without Giannis Antetokounmpo in the regular season and a 2-0 record in the postseason without him
- Jrue Holiday: 23.3 pts, 8.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 2.0 combined blocks/steals in series openers and 17 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists, 3.3 combined blocks steals in closeout games
- Posted 120.8 points per game at home in 2020-21 and 119.5 points per game on the road in the regular season
- Allowed 115.4 points per game on the road and 113.1 points per game at home in the regular season
- Offensive efficiency 116.9 (4th) and defensive efficiency 110.9 (12th) in the regular season
- Pace 101.5 (5th) in the regular season
- 31-38-2 ATS in the regular season; 17-18-1 at home and 14-20-1 away
- 6-2 on the road and 6-2 at home this postseason
- Posted 116.5 points per game at home and 114.0 points per game on the road in the regular season
- Allowed 111.4 points per game on the road and 107.6 points per game at home in the regular season
- Offensive efficiency 115.4 (7th) and defensive efficiency 109.3 (6th) in the regular season
- Pace 97.1 (29th) in the regular season
- Devin Booker (40.4) tied for fourth in playoff minutes this postseason
- Booker: 31.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists in series openers
- 42-28-1 ATS in the regular season; 23-13-0 at home and 19-15-1 away
Feb. 1 – Suns 125 vs. Bucks 124
Antetokounmpo 47 points, Middleton 18 points, 11 assists, Booker 30 points, Paul 28 points
Apr. 19 – Suns 128 at Bucks 127 (OT)
Ayton 20 points, 12 rebounds, Booker 24 points, Bridges 21 points, Paul 22 points, Antetokounmpo 33 points, Middleton 26 points, Holiday 25 points
Three pointers: Middleton 2.6, Crowder 2.4, Booker 2.1
Rebounds: Antetokounmpo 12.7, Ayton 11.8
Assists: Paul 8.7, Holiday 8.4
Steals: Middleton 1.5, Paul 1.4
Blocks: Lopez 1.8, Ayton 0.9
Points: Antetokounmpo 28.2, Booker 27.0
Chris Paul vs. Jrue Holiday
CP3 will surely leave it all on the court in his first Finals appearance, and it will be Jrue Holiday tasked with slowing him down. Holiday struggled against Trae Young in the Eastern Conference Finals, and he’ll need to play sound defense on the future Hall of Famer if Milwaukee has a shot to win it all.
DeAndre Ayton vs. Milwaukee Frontcourt
Ayton has surged in the postseason, though he’s done so against some suspect defenses, including the Clippers and Nuggets. He’ll face a more difficult challenge in the form of former DPOY Antetokounmpo and the likes of Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis.
X Factors: Jrue Holiday, DeAndre Ayton
How to Bet
These two teams are as evenly matched as they come.
Aside from pace of play, which favors Milwaukee, both teams have efficient offenses, elite defenses, and multiple stars who can pile up counting stats.
If you’re looking to bet the spread, Phoenix has a clear advantage ATS, while Milwaukee is just below .500 in that department. Both teams are significantly better ATS at home than away.
If you’re more of a props bettor, Antetokounmpo has been huge for the Bucks this postseason and posted some monster scoring efforts. After missing two games due to a hyperextended knee, I’d be cautious to take the over (or bet on his props at all) in Game 1. If he’s out, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Bobby Portis would likely continue to see significant boosts in production.
Booker and Paul are the primary scoring threats for Phoenix, and the former has fared very well in series openers this postseason. Ayton has averaged 14.6 boards across his last five games, grabbing at least 14 in three of those.
Lines for Game 1
The Suns open as (-5.5) against the Bucks, and that’s for good reason. Milwaukee is 1-2 in series openers this postseason, while Phoenix is 3-0. The Suns have scored at least 120 points in two of those three contests (all at home). According to AZ Central, “The Suns are 38-27-2 against the spread in 2020-21 when they are at least a 1-point favorite. 46 of 86 Phoenix games this season (53.5%) resulted in a total greater than the contest’s over/under.”
Picking the Suns as outright winners and to cover the spread is a smart wager, but what about the over/under? As highlighted above, Suns games have exceeded the over/under more often than not in 2020-21, and in two matchups with the Bucks in the regular season, the point totals were 149 and 155. For Game 1, I’m betting the Suns to win and cover the spread and the over on the 217 o/u.
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