Bucks vs. Suns NBA Finals Betting Pick: Here’s the Parlay to Bet in Game 1 (July 6)
Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Chris Paul.
Despite the myriad of injuries this postseason, the Bucks and Suns have been unquestionably two of the elite teams in the league this season, and whoever wins will be a worthy and long-awaited champion in Phoenix or Milwaukee.
The Suns have battled through injuries/illness to players like Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, Cameron Johnson and Abdel Nader. The Bucks will remain without Donte DiVincenzo for this series due to a foot injury, while Giannis Antetokounmpo’s left knee injury has him doubtful to play in Game 1.
Antetokounmpo’s injury status is worth following as this will have ripple effects on both teams and bettors, especially single-game parlay bettors.
After Antetokounmpo missed both Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to his hyperextended knee, I am skeptical that he will play and be close enough 100% to be effective with his style of play that relies on his freakish combination of speed, bounce and strength.
With this in mind, here are my favorite bets for a single-game parlay for Game 1. Combine these two using FanDuel’s Same Game Parlay feature at +380.
Bet 1: P.J. Tucker Over 6.5 rebounds -114
Among the bets here, this is my favorite, especially if you got it at 5.5 rebounds before Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful.
P.J. Tucker will see a smaller defender on him for the majority of this series as the Suns will try to hide players like Paul and Payne on him defensively. The Hawks did this with Trae Young and Lou Williams, daring the Bucks to involve Tucker on offense to try and take advantage of their worst defenders.
While Tucker only took more than seven shots once against the Hawks, he was instead more aggressive as a rebounder as he pinched in from the corners to utilize his size advantage over smaller and thinner defenders. He grabbed at least seven rebounds in five of six games against the Hawks, including 11 and eight in the last two without Antetokounmpo.
I like the value on Tucker to get at least seven rebounds whether Antetokounmpo plays or not, but I like the value a lot more if Antetokounmpo remains out.
The Bucks effectively shortened their rotation to just six players (including Antetokounmpo) in their most desperate moments against the Nets, and Tucker’s defensive versatility will remain valuable with DiVincenzo out. He averaged 31 minutes per game against the Nets and 32 minutes per game against the Hawks.
While the Hawks had two centers in Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu who are both long and athletic rebounders, the Suns don’t have the same size and athleticism with their backup centers (Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky), and Tucker’s rebounding should benefit from this.
Take Over 6.5 rebounds at -114 with value down to -140. Additionally, if Antetokounmpo is ruled out before the game starts, I like the value on Tucker to record 8+ rebounds at +178 on FanDuel with value down to +125.
Bet 2: Chris Paul to Score at Least 20 Points and the Suns to Win +146
With Antetokounmpo unlikely to be at 100%, this significantly lowers the caliber of help defenders for the Bucks’ defense. Whether the Bucks choose to play a drop or switch more frequently like they did at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals, Chris Paul should have opportunities to take advantage of this as he maneuvers into his patented midrange jumpers.
The Point God went an identical 10 of 20 from the field in both of his games against the Bucks this season (although Jrue Holiday didn’t play in the first of those two games) while averaging 25 points per game.
The Bucks allowed the most long midrange shots in the NBA this season, and the Suns took the fourth-most of these shots. Overall in the midrange, the Bucks allowed the fourth-most shot attempts while the Suns took the sixth-most midrange shots (per Cleaning The Glass).
The Bucks allowed the 11th-highest shooting percentage in both the long midrange and total midrange while the Suns shot the highest percentage in both the long midrange (46.6%) and all midrange shots (49.1% – via Cleaning The Glass).
The Bucks must pick their poison between helping off of either Ayton at the rim or shooters on the wings to help on Paul in the midrange, and despite his proficiency, they should let him shoot these shots. Limiting the number of corner 3s for the Suns (who shot these at the third-highest frequency in the league this season, per Cleaning The Glass) should be a priority for the Bucks, and we already know that their drop defense with Brook Lopez is designed to limit shots in the paint (they allowed the second-fewest shots at the rim – 27.8% of attempts, per Cleaning the Glass).
I lean toward expecting them to stay predominantly in drop coverage in Game 1 (at least when Brook Lopez is on the court) before adjusting as needed later in the series.
With this being his first ever NBA Finals game, expect Paul to be ready for the moment and be aggressive. In Game 6 against the Clippers, he was at his best as he went 16 of 24 from the field – including seven of eight on 3s) as he scored a game-high 41 points.
This gives me confidence that he can be effective going forward after torn ligaments in his shooting hand hampered him earlier in the series.
With the home crowd going nuts in the first Finals game in Phoenix this millennium, expect Paul to be aggressive again as the Suns need to take advantage of the Bucks without Antetokounmpo at full strength. I like the value on this Player Performance Double at +146 with value down to +100.
(Note: Take Chris Paul to Score 20+ points at -138 and the Suns Moneyline at -270 to combine them for the same-game parlay because the Player Performance Double at +146 isn’t allowed to be combined in the Same Game Parlay feature on FanDuel.)