Jeff's 2021 NBA Finals Preview
By Jeff Hochman of JH-Sportsline
Why the Milwaukee Bucks will Win
The Bucks seem to have better spacing and ball movement when the "Greek Freak" is not on the floor. I would never say the Bucks are a better basketball team without Giannis. But, seeing is believing. After some huge performances early, the Bucks adjusted their pick-and-roll defense nicely against Trae Young, who was clearly not 100% in the ladder part of the Eastern Conf. finals. In 17 playoff games, the Bucks had a +6.1 point differential. They averaged 109.8 points per game (10th) while allowing 103.7 which ranks No. 2 against a much easier schedule than Phoenix. With or without Giannis, this is a deep and talented roster. A Bucks series win in six or seven games would not be shocking. The Bucks are 58-31 SU and 42-47 ATS this season in a weak conference.
Why the Phoenix Suns will Win
The Suns have no weakness right now and having home-court advantage will help as well. This team is fast, long, hungry, and their team chemistry is off the charts. The Suns played in the very tougher Western Conference which is not breaking news. Phoenix is 63-25 SU and 53-33-2 ATS to date. That ATS number is ridiculously good and the Suns have exceeded expectations all season long. Are the odds-makers disrespecting the Suns? Time will tell. The Suns are ranked No. 2 in point differential (+7.0) this postseason in 16 games. They averaged 108.9 points per game (11th) while allowing 101.9 points per game which ranks No. 1 in the postseason.
Head to Head
The Suns won both games by 1 point as four-point home dogs and three-point road underdogs respectively. Giannis had 80 points in the two games combined. If he's out/hobbled for this series, the Bucks are in serious trouble.
Series Price: Phoenix Suns -190, Milwaukee Bucks +170
The Pick: Phoenix Suns -190
The Suns have the No. 1 defense, No. 1 ATS record in quite some time, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Bridges, Crowder. Add in ascending talent Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne. Saric and Craig can hold their own too. This is a deep, talented, long team that comes in waves. Wings that can shoot and defend. They can switch every pick-and-roll. To me, it seems like this team is on a mission. For Chris Paul or whatever, they are highly motivated, healthier, and the more talented team. Not sure how many games, but I'm taking the Suns to win the NBA Finals at -190. If Giannis is close to 100%, the series will be much closer but still lean to the Suns.