Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns host the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday evening. The Suns and Bucks begin the 2021 NBA Finals with a Game 1 tilt under the brightest lights the sport can offer. Milwaukee beat Atlanta to reach this point, with Phoenix knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals. All eyes will also be on Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee), who has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Game 1 after missing the last two contests for Milwaukee.
Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET in Phoenix. William Hill Sportsbook lists Phoenix as a 5.5-point favorite in the latest Bucks vs. Suns odds. The over-under for total points is up to 219.5, two points higher than the opening line. Before finalizing any Suns vs. Bucks picks, be sure to check out the 2021 NBA Finals predictions from SportsLine's Larry Hartstein.
Hartstein, who is a regular on The Early Edge podcast, says he expects one team "to have significant difficulty adjusting" and he has identified the right side to back in his analysis for the NBA Finals 2021. Hartstein is a blistering 58-33 on his last 91 ATS NBA picks involving the Suns, a stretch that has made $100 bettors more than $2200. Anybody following him has seen huge returns.
- Bucks vs. Suns spread: Suns -5.5
- Bucks vs. Suns over-under: 219.5 points
- Bucks vs. Suns money line: Suns -250, Bucks +210
- MIL: The Bucks are 7-3 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
No matter the availability of Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have enough firepower to get by and then some. Milwaukee was dominant in Game 6 against the Hawks, catching fire to the tune of 71 points in the second half. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are both heading to the Olympics to represent Team USA, and both are capable of outbursts offensively. Middleton is averaging 23.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game during the postseason, and he scored 23 points in the third quarter of Game 6 against the Hawks. Holiday is putting up 17.6 points, 8.4 assists and 5.6 rebounds per game, and he remains one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA while also boasting the ability to effectively switch to guard bigger offensive creators when needed.
The Bucks also showed the proficiency to crash the offensive glass with reckless abandon in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee secured 33.9 percent of its own misses against the Hawks and, for the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Bucks are grabbing 30.8 percent of available offensive rebounds. Those are dominant indicators and, while the Bucks struggled to put up free-throw attempts against Atlanta, the Suns enter the series as a below-average team in free-throw prevention rate (0.259) during the playoffs.
Why the Suns can cover
Phoenix's offense is its calling card and that is the case for obvious reasons. The Suns scored more than 1.16 points per possession during the regular season, and they are keyed by two prolific creators in Booker and Paul. While their offense remains potent, Phoenix has also excelled defensively in the playoffs, and the Bucks have been vulnerable offensively. The Suns rank No. 2 in the league in playoff defensive efficiency, giving up only 106.7 points per 100 possessions. That goes with the league's best mark in effective field-goal percentage allowed (49.8 percent) during the playoffs, and the Bucks are capable of turning the ball over at inopportune times.
Milwaukee is committing a giveaway on 13.4 percent of offensive possessions during the postseason, a below-average rate, and Milwaukee is also shooting just 31.1 percent from 3-point range. Phoenix is a top-tier team in 3-point defense, yielding just 32.6 percent shooting in the playoffs, and the Suns have the size and toughness to force the Bucks into low-percentage looks that could swing the math in their favor.
How to make Bucks vs. Suns picks
Hartstein is leaning over on the total. He's also identified an alarming 15-1 trend that has him jumping all over one side of the spread. You can only get this pick at SportsLine.
So who Bucks vs. Suns? And what alarming trend do you need to know about in Game 1? Visit SportsLine now to find out which side of the spread you need to jump on, all from the expert who has his finger on the pulse of the Suns.