The Phoenix Suns will be looking for a 2-0 lead on Thursday night when they face the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. The Suns are just three wins away from the NBA Championship after a strong 118-105 victory over the Bucks in Game 1 on Tuesday. The contest was close for most of the first half before the Suns led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter. The Bucks attempted a comeback to cut the lead to seven points in the fourth quarter but the Suns countered to prevail.
Chris Paul was simply phenomenal with 32 points and nine assists, Devin Booker had 27 points, Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 19 rebounds and Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson combined for 20 points off the bench. Paul is the first player with at least 30 points and eight assists in an NBA Finals debut since Michael Jordan in 1991. He scored or assisted on 54 points (the third-most in an NBA Finals debut all-time, behind only Allen Iverson (61 in 2001) and Michael Jordan (60 in 1991)).
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 29 points of his own and a still-recovering Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 20 points to go along with 17 rebounds but he played only 35 minutes and couldn’t be as aggressive in the paint as he usually is. Giannis had just 11 field goal attempts in the game.
The Bucks will need to make some serious adjustments to even this series. Giannis hyperextended his knee over a week ago and he had to play more cautiously than he normally would. Just 11 field goal attempts in a game are not going to be enough. Those were the fewest of the playoffs for him aside from Game 4 against the Hawks, when he got hurt in the first place.
The 35 minutes and 21 seconds Giannis played on Tuesday is the fewest he’s played in a non-blowout in the 2021 playoffs aside from Game 1 of the series against the Nets. The Bucks are justifiably cautious with their best player and he was still the most important player on the floor. He was compromised physically but the Bucks still outscored the Suns by one point when he was on the court and got destroyed when he wasn’t. Giannis’ health is extremely important in this series. The Bucks can’t beat the Suns if he’s at 80 percent, they need him at his MVP level to have a chance against a team as strong as this.
Even at full strength, this is a mismatch for the Bucks. Milwaukee allowed the second-most mid-range jumpers in the league this season while Phoenix attempted the fourth most and made them at the highest percentage. The Milwaukee defense is built around protecting the paint, and they did that for most of Game 1 but they just got killed in the mid-range, particularly Brook Lopez.
Team to Win (Regular Time)
• Milwaukee Bucks: 2.81
• Phoenix Suns: 1.49
• Milwaukee Bucks: +5.5 (1.93)
• Phoenix Suns: -5.5 (1.88)
• Over 220.5 (1.90)
• Under 220.5 (1.90)
Key Points to Consider
The Bucks miss Donte DiVincenzo (minus-0.3 Offensive Box Plus/Minus in the regular season) and Bryn Forbes got most of his minutes and scored just six points in 12 minutes, exemplifying how much deeper the Suns are than the Bucks. Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson are genuine contributors who make a difference and could be starters on most teams while the Bucks go to their bench just to rest their players.
Jae Crowder was 0-for-8 from the field for just one point and the Suns still won by double digits. That stat tells the whole story and the Bucks get almost all of their scoring from four players and when just one of them doesn’t show up, like Jrue Holiday in Game 1, their offense struggles.
Can Milwaukee’s best players outplay Phoenix’s? The Suns just have more ways of generating offense but I do like the Bucks to keep this one close, I don’t see them winning but I like the price I’m getting with them ATS.
The Bucks are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game, 4-2 ATS in their last six games overall, 4-2 ATS in their last six games against a team with a winning straight up record and 5-3 ATS in their last eight games after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to score 25.4 points with 11.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists, making 8.9 field goals in 18.3 attempts.
For the Suns, Devin Booker is projected to finish with 27.3 points, 6.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds, making 8.6 field goals in 19.3 attempts.
Three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend pick on the Bucks in this one. Average score in simulations is Phoenix Suns 109.1 to Milwaukee Bucks 108.1.
Make sure to check all other MLB, NFL, NCAA, NHL, NBA and soccer game predictions from AccuScore and Dafanews.