Bucks vs. Suns: Latest Comments and Odds for 2021 NBA FinalsJuly 7, 2021
Bucks vs. Suns: Latest Comments and Odds for 2021 NBA Finals
The Phoenix Suns drew first blood in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Buoyed by 59 points from starting guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker, plus another 22 points out of center Deandre Ayton, the Suns rolled to a 118-105 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
The 13-point advantage felt even bigger, thanks in no small part to Phoenix's ability to get to the free-throw line and maximize its chances there. The Suns were a brilliant 25-of-26 at the stripe, while the Bucks made good on only nine of their 16 attempts.
The two sides will lock horns again Thursday night for Game 2. Before that, let's check on the updated series odds and examine some of the top comments coming out of the opener.
Latest NBA Finals Odds
NBA Finals Winner
Phoenix Suns -280
Milwaukee Bucks +230
NBA Finals MVP
Chris Paul -140
Devin Booker +550
Khris Middleton +550
Giannis Antetokounmpo +600
Deandre Ayton +1000
Jrue Holiday +4100
Mikal Bridges +8500
Jae Crowder +16000
Brook Lopez +19000
NBA Finals Total Games
4 Games +550
5 Games +200
6 Games +230
7 Games +200
*Odds provided courtesy of FanDuel.
Suns Follow Point God's Lead
Three-fifths of the Suns' starting five are playing in their first-ever postseason: Booker, Ayton and Mikal Bridges. Same goes for Cameron Johnson, their reserve leader in minutes played Tuesday night. Cameron Payne, who logged their second-most minutes off the bench, didn't have a regular role in his first two playoff appearances.
So, even though this was Paul's first Finals appearance, this roster is built to follow his lead. That's exactly what transpired on Tuesday, when he put forth a performance for the ages. He became the third player ever aged 36 or older to score 30-plus points in a Finals game, per ESPN Stats & Info, and delivered the first 30-point, eight-assist Finals debut since Michael Jordan, per SportsCenter.
Afterward, Booker hailed his backcourt mate as "the greatest leader to play this game." And, in a nod to Paul's uber-efficient shooting performance (12-of-19 from the field, 4-of-7 from distance and 4-of-4 at the line), Booker said simply, "Chris Paul's been a bucket, man."
Everything the Bucks tried against Paul didn't work. They switched heavily to try to disrupt the Suns' ball screens, and the Point God slithered his way past defenders to his attack zones all night. In addition to all the net shredding, he dished out nine assists and only turned the ball over twice in 37 minutes.
The Suns outscored the Bucks by 17 points when he was on the floor.
This was floor general execution at its finest, and it's the reason that Paul, who turned 36 in May, is the early favorite to be crowned Finals MVP.
Giannis Thought His Season Was Finished
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Giannis Antetokounmpo's knee bent in a way it never should as he tried to contest an alley-oop. He didn't suit up again in that series and thought he might not the rest of this season.
"When the play happened, I thought I would be out for a year," Antetokounmpo told reporters.
Antetokounmpo lost just those two contests to the injury, though, and other than perhaps capping his minutes (35) and shots (11), there didn't seem to be any lingering effects on Tuesday. He said the knee felt "great" and he didn't feel any pain.
He paired his 20 points with 17 rebounds, made one ridiculous block and even went a respectable 7-of-12 at the line. He was the only Bucks' starter with a positive plus/minus (plus-1), meaning Milwaukee won his 35 minutes and lost the 13 it played without him by 13 points.
The Bucks finally deployed him as a small-ball center late in the game and found some traction with that lineup. After losing the first three quarters by 16 points, they won the final frame by three. Brook Lopez didn't get off the bench that quarter, and Bobby Portis only played the final 24.8 seconds when the outcome had been decided.
If this knee problem is behind Antetokounmpo, he can give the Bucks hope to turn things around. Despite the double-digit defeat, they did grab more rebounds (47-43), dish more assists (21-18) and make more threes (16-11).
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