Monty Williams and the Phoenix Suns host Mike Budenholzer and the Milwaukee Bucks in a high-stakes showdown on Thursday. The Suns and Bucks square off in Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Finals, with Phoenix leading the series 1-0. Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton led a dominant effort in Tuesday's Game 1, with the Bucks looking to counter with a road win in Game 2. Dario Saric (knee) is out for the Suns, with Donte DiVincenzo (ankle) out of action for the Bucks.
The latest Bucks vs. Suns odds from William Hill Sportsbook list Phoenix as a 4.5 point-favorite for this 9 p.m. ET tip. The over-under for total points is now 221. Before finalizing any Suns vs. Bucks picks or 2021 NBA Finals predictions, you need to see what SportsLine NBA expert Larry Hartstein has to say.
Hartstein, who is a regular on The Early Edge podcast, sees an X-factor and he has identified the right side to back in his analysis for the NBA Finals 2021. Hartstein is a blistering 59-33 on his last 92 ATS NBA picks involving the Suns, a stretch that has made $100 bettors more than $2300. Anybody following him has seen huge returns.
- Bucks vs. Suns spread: Suns -4.5
- Bucks vs. Suns over-under: 221 points
- Bucks vs. Suns money line: Suns -190, Bucks +170
- MIL: The Bucks are 6-4 against the spread in the last 10 games
- PHX: The Suns are 7-3 against the spread in the last 10 games
Why the Bucks can cover
With Giannis Antetokounmpo back in the lineup after a knee injury, the Bucks can take solace in having the vast majority of their regular season production back on the floor. Milwaukee was a top-five offense in the NBA during the 72-game marathon, scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions, and the Bucks ranked in the top five in both field-goal percentage (48.7 percent) and 3-point percentage (38.9 percent). The Bucks were also above-average in both offensive rebound rate (26.9 percent) and turnover rate (13 percent), and Milwaukee's work on the offensive glass has been dominant in the postseason in grabbing more than 30 percent of their own missed shots.
Defensively, the Bucks have been even better in the 2021 NBA Playoffs than they were during the regular season, allowing more than five points fewer per 100 possessions. Still, Milwaukee's season-long metrics are instructive, as the Bucks were No. 2 in the NBA in 2-point shooting allowed (50.7 percent) and No. 1 in the NBA in free-throw attempts allowed (18.8 per game). Those stellar shooting metrics, combined with top-five marks in defensive rebound rate (75.5 percent) and foul prevention (17.3 per game) paint an optimistic picture for Game 2, even as the Bucks operate in a hostile environment on the road.
Why the Suns can cover
Phoenix's offense is very impressive, scoring nearly 1.14 points per possession in the playoffs. The Suns are assisting on more than 59 percent of their field goals while generating 2.12 assists for every turnover. The Suns committed only nine giveaways in Game 1, and they were a whopping 25 of 26 at the free-throw line, improving their accuracy to 87.0 percent in the entire playoffs. In contrast, Milwaukee is shooting just 70.6 percent from the line in the postseason, giving the huge advantage to Phoenix. Paul is also a maestro in the pick-and-roll, and his 32-point outburst in Game 1 did not appear to be a mirage based on Milwaukee's lack of answers for his approach.
Defensively, the Suns are holding opponents to just 106.6 points per 100 possessions, and they maintain the No. 1 mark in the 2021 NBA Playoffs in effective field-goal percentage allowed (50.1 percent). Milwaukee scored at an adequate rate in the series opener, but the Bucks needed to make 16 3-pointers to do it, and that isn't replicable on a bigger scale. The Suns were a top-five team in 3-point defense (35.4 percent) during the regular season, and Phoenix is a top-tier defensive team.
How to make Bucks vs. Suns picks
Hartstein is leaning over on the total. He also has found a key x-factor that have him jumping all over one side. Make sure to check out his expert NBA Finals picks and analysis before locking in any Bucks vs. Suns bets of your own.
So who wins Bucks vs. Suns? And which side of the spread is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the Bucks vs. Suns spread you need to jump on Thursday, all from the expert that has crushed his NBA picks, and find out.