2021 NBA Finals: Game 1 Preview and Prediction

nba Jul 06, 2021

Suns Host NBA Finals Game 1 on Tuesday Night

The 2021 NBA Finals feature two of the longest suffering franchises in the league, as the Phoenix Suns take on the Milwaukee Bucks.

It's been a half century of futility – 100- plus seasons, in fact, between the two teams competing in this year's finals.  The Suns have never won an NBA championship, while the Bucks' only title came way back in 1971.  So, one of these teams will finally achieve glory while the other will continue suffering the agony of defeat.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series tips off on Tuesday night at 6:10 pm PST.

Current Odds show Phoenix favoured by -6 with the betting total at 219.  The Suns are -260 to win on the moneyline, which comes back at +210 on the Bucks.

It's rare for an injury to one player be such a significant factor from both a spectators' and gamblers' point of view.  But that's the case, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding Milwaukee.

So much depends on the health and performance of two-time league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.  After recent seasons ending in disappointment, he'll finally have a chance to prove he's capable of leading a team to a championship -- that is, if he's able to play after hyperextending his knee in the Eastern Conference finals.  Even if Antetokounmpo plays, there's question about him being at 100 percent.

In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, Antetokounmpo landed awkwardly on his left leg, which hyperextended in violent fashion.  As he lay on the ground grimacing in pain, the entire present and future of the Bucks franchise hung in the balance.

Reports are there's a chance he will return to action during the Finals at some point.  The Bucks are playing it close to the vest as head coach Mike Budenholzer says it's a "day-to-day" situation. While the Bucks still have a chance to compete without him (and they won games 5 and 6 in the conference finals with him in street clothes), it goes without saying their odds increase significantly if they can get Antetokounmpo back healthy again.

It's very possible Phoenix begins this series strongly and even goes up 2-0.  Then, if and when their superstar becomes healthy, Milwaukee rebounds with a much better effort on their home court for Games 3 and 4.  For the purposes of betting at this moment, Phoenix is the healthier team, is rested, and is playing at home.  

Prediction:  Phoenix should take Game 1 and -6 is a reasonable number to lay with the favourite.  Suns 115, Bucks 105  

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