After months and months of grinding, the time has finally come: the 2020-21 NBA Finals begin on Tuesday. It’ll be a unique matchup as the Phoenix Suns are looking to win their first championship ever. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks have won an NBA Championship in the past, however, they haven’t reached the finals since 1974. Needless to say, this series has been a long time coming for both teams.
With Game 1 set scheduled to take place tonight in Phoenix at 9:00 p.m. EST, here’s a look at the odds heading into the matchup.
NBA Finals Odds: Milwaukee Bucks vs Phoenix Suns Game 1
Odds via BetOnline as of Tuesday, July 6
- Series: Series tied 0-0
- Time: 9:00 p.m. EST
- Moneyline: Bucks (+210) vs Suns (-250)
- Point Spread: Bucks: +6.0 (-108), Suns: -6.0 (-112)
- Total: 218.5 — Over (-115), Under (-105)
Can the Bucks Win Without Giannis?
While winning the NBA Finals is already challenging in itself, the Bucks face a different challenge as they may have to open the series without superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee’s best player has missed the last two games with a knee injury that he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. There’s no guarantee that he’ll be ruled out for tonight, but his status is doubtful.
The good news is that the Bucks did find a way to beat the Atlanta Hawks without Antetokounmpo. During that span, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday stepped up, averaging 29.0 PPG and 26.0 PPG respectively. Even a guy like Brook Lopez turned back the clock and dropped 33 points in Game 5 against the Hawks. Yes, losing Antetokounmpo hurts, but the good news is that the Bucks are entering the NBA Finals knowing that they can succeed without him.
One of the Bucks’ keys to success will be to figure out how to contain Suns center Deandre Ayton. The big man has the ability to steal some games, which means Milwaukee has to figure out how to defend him without Antetokounmpo in the lineup. The assignment will likely go to a guy like Lopez or even P.J. Tucker. If either man can defend Ayton well enough and Milwaukee’s guards can contain Devin Booker and Chris Paul, the Bucks could hold their ground until their superstar returns to the rotation.
Suns Looking For History
While the Suns haven’t waited 77 years to return to the NBA Finals as the Bucks have, it’s still been 28 years since they’ve challenged for the championship. Now, they have a chance to make quite a bit of history. For Starters, one of the biggest storylines heading into the series has revolved around Chris Paul.
The 10-time All-NBA veteran is considered an all-time great point guard, however, some people are saying his lack of a championship ring is holding him back from being in the same conversation as other legends. Well, Paul his best chance to prove the doubters wrong. He’s been averaging 18.1 PPG/3.9 RPG/8.7 APG, showing that being 36 years old hasn’t slowed him down too much. Especially, judging by his 41-point performance in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
The great thing is that Paul has a great surrounding cast around him. Devin Booker has been a scoring machine in his first NBA playoff run, averaging 27.0 PPG in the postseason so far. Deandre Ayton has been a walking double-double as well, posting 16.2 points and 11.8 rebounds per game on a mind-blowing .706 field goal percentage. That’s not even to mention role players like Cameron Payne, Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges stepping up when it’s been necessary. All in all, the Suns just have an extremely deep team and that’s one of the reasons why they’ve made it to the NBA Finals.
Now, all that’s left to do is see if they can bring a championship back to Phoenix for the first time in franchise history.