Last Updated on July 5, 2021
The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks are one of the more surprising NBA Finals matchups in recent years. Both teams are deserving of the opportunity after overcoming adversity in their respective Conference Finals. Chris Paul missed time due to COVID issues while Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Games 5 and 6 with a hyperextended knee.
With Antetokounmpo still nursing that knee injury, the Suns opened as 5.5-point favorites at home in Game 1. That number is moving a bit as Tuesday approaches. Let’s take a look at the Game 1 odds via FanDuel Sportsbook:
|Milwaukee Bucks||+6 (-114)||+194||O 217.5 (-110)|
|Phoenix Suns||-6 (-106)||-235||U 217.5 (-110)|
The fact that this line is moving towards Phoenix goes to shows that oddsmakers are skeptical about Antetokounmpo’s health. The two-time MVP is listed as day-to-day and the Bucks are playing things close to the chest.
Meanwhile, Phoenix is going to be at full strength entering Game 1. The fact that they are playing at home will give them a slight boost as well.
Chris Paul’s First NBA Finals
In his 15th year in the NBA and on his third team in as many years, Chris Paul is finally going to the NBA Finals. It was a long trip to this point for CP3, but now he is on the cusp of that elusive championship.
With Giannis banged up, the Suns should have the upper hand in this series. In fact, Phoenix is currently sitting at -185 to win the NBA Finals on FanDuel Sportsbook.
Paul has been nothing short of incredible during this Phoenix playoff run. He’s averaging 18.1 points per game and 8.7 assists against just 1.6 turnovers. And he’s getting better and better as the playoffs go on. Paul dropped 41 points, eight assists, and no turnovers in a 27-point drubbing of the Clippers in Game 6. He played so well that
41 PTS | 16/24 FGM | 7 3PM | 8 AST pic.twitter.com/OiGaa0NGN2
— NBA (@NBA) July 1, 2021
When Will Giannis Return?
Antetokounmpo is listed as day-to-day, but his potential return is still unclear. His head coach Mike Budenholzer isn’t giving away too much information and when Antetokounmpo will be back. However, there seems to be some optimism that he can come back and play in these NBA Finals.
Without Antetokounmpo, several other Bucks have stepped up. Four different players — Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis — scored 22 or more points in their pivotal Game 5 victory. Middleton then led the way with 32 points in a decisive Game 6.
The Bucks are going to need Antetokounmpo back at some point if they want to win the Larry O’Brien trophy, but the supporting cast might surprise some people early on in this series.
Budenholzer vs. Williams
Aside from the players on the court, there is an interesting matchup on the benches as well. Mike Budenholzer and Monty Williams are both making their NBA Finals debuts as head coaches. Williams has been masterful during this playoff run and Budenholzer made some huge adjustments to turn the tide in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The back-and-forth between these two is going to play a major role in what happens in these games. Budenholzer will have a tougher job early on as he tries to adjust without Giannis, but Williams is going to have a tough time game planning for this balanced Milwaukee attack.