With every passing game in the NBA Finals, the pressure increases exponentially and Saturday’s Game 5 will have the most pressure of any game in this series.
So far, both teams have taken care of business on their home floor, but the Milwaukee Bucks have the momentum and the most dominant player in the series, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Our NBA analysts are focused on three specific bets for Saturday’s crucial matchup and give their favorite bets and analysis below.
NBA Finals Game 3 Odds & Picks
|Click on a pick to skip ahead|
|Joe Dellera||Bucks Team Total||PointsBet|
|Raheem Palmer||Suns First Quarter Spread||DraftKings|
|Brandon Anderson||Bucks Player Prop||BetMGM|
Bucks Over 107 Points (-121)
Joe Dellera: The Bucks evened up this series and now it’s a best of three to see who takes the Larry O’Brien Trophy home.
The Bucks have seemingly struggled to find an offensive rhythm with an eFG% nearly four percentage points lower than their expected and 5.6 percentage points lower than their regular season eFG%. Despite this, they’ve posted a superior Offensive Rating compared to the Suns, per NBA Advanced Stats.
One reason for this is the Bucks have dominated on the Glass. They have held a rebounding edge in each game of the Finals, have grabbed 51.5% of all rebounds this series and they’ve out-rebounded the Suns in aggregate 188-162. These extra opportunities are significant — they give Milwaukee more room for error.
The sportsbooks have made Milwaukee a 4-point dog in Game 5, and while I think they’re live here, the angle I’m looking at is their point total. We’ve seen the totals in this series drop from about 220.5 to a low of 217.5 in this game. The Bucks have seen an uptick in their scoring output after Game 1 and are averaging 110.5 points per game.
The Bucks’ advantage on the glass has mitigated their struggles shooting the basketball, and if that falls in line as well they’re likely to take a 3-2 lead in this series. Regardless, I think their team total is too low and I like them to put up points in Phoenix.
Suns -1.5 First Quarter (-105)
Suns: 51.3 FG%
Bucks: 40.2 FG%
The Suns are the first team in NBA history to lose a Finals game despite shooting better than 50% and holding their opponents below 42%. pic.twitter.com/T6hdinNCGc
— StatMuse (@statmuse) July 15, 2021
Turnovers and offensive rebounds completely killed the Suns’ chances of winning as they coughed up the ball 17 times for 24 points while allowing the Bucks to grab 17 offensive rebounds for 19 second chance points.
The Suns led for 38:59 of game before coughing up the lead in the final minutes. Chris Paul’s play was particularly troubling as he’s had nine turnovers over the past two games and hasn’t been the offensive force he was during the Suns first two games at home where he scored 32 and 23 points respectively.
The return home should be a return to form for this Suns team and you have to expect Monty Williams to come up with a game plan to get Paul going against this switching defense from the Bucks. Overall, Paul should play better, the Suns should clean up some of the turnovers and offensive rebounds while at home.
While many people may see value on the Suns at -4 as someone who feels like the Bucks have the answer to win this series, I’m not willing to play that as I believe that the Bucks’ style of play ultimately wears the Suns down throughout the game. While the Bucks are dominating inside of the paint with Giannis Antetokounmpo and capitalizing on the offensive glass, the Suns are more reliant on perimeter scoring.
In the first half of games in this series, the Suns have a +1.5 Net Rating and in the second half they have a -4.2 Net Rating. Diving deeper, the Suns have a +8.1 Net Rating in the first quarter of all Finals games.
Interestingly enough, the Suns have won the first quarter of every game this series except for Game 2, winning Game 1 by 4, Game 3 by 3 and Game 4 by 3 points. You have to expect the Suns to get off to hot start after a disappointing Game 4 loss but what happens after that isn’t easy to answer.
I’ll play the Suns 1Q -1.5 as they should get off to a hot start as they’ve done throughout this series.
Bobby Portis Over 6.5 Points (-105)
Brandon Anderson: Milwaukee fans LOVE Bobby Portis. Perhaps you noticed. The home fans went ballistic every time he checked in, and though Portis won’t get the same greeting in Game 5 in Phoenix, he’s starting to feel right at home in this series.
Portis was awesome in the first round against the Miami Heat, averaging double-digit points as a big contributor off the bench, but he was minimized and then benched entirely in a tough matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. Things were better against the Atlanta Hawks, and Portis even started the final two games of the series and put up big numbers when Giannis Antetokounmpo was out.
This series has been more of the same. First, it looked like this wasn’t the series for Portis. In Game 1, he was -10 in 14 minutes and barely saw the court in Game 2 as Milwaukee struggled to find a place to hide Portis defensively.
But things fell into place the last two games as Milwaukee has found something in this lineup with Portis and Antetokounmpo playing together, since the defense actually respects Portis’ shot (more than Brook Lopez’s) so that helps the Bucks space the court, leaving more room for Giannis to operate in the paint.
When Portis is on the court, he’s almost always productive — it’s just been a matter of whether he can get minutes. Right now, it looks like he’s getting his usual 20 or so minutes off the bench, and that means this line is a bargain.
Outside of the Brooklyn series and those two games as a starter against Atlanta, Portis is averaging 8.75 points in 16.5 minutes per game. That actually skews a bit low, since Portis didn’t play or produce much the first two Finals games.
Don’t be thrown off by Portis scoring only five points last game. He got six shots up but missed all but one, and his energy still had a big impact on the team. Portis has made a 3-pointer in three of four Finals games. If he does that again, we only need two other buckets to hit this over.
Seven points isn’t a big ask, and the Action Labs prop tool is projecting Portis at 8.5 points; it likes Portis to go over on all of his props. I’ll keep it easy and just wait on the seven points, counting on Bobby’s energy to do the rest.