NBA Finals 2021: Bucks vs. Suns Game 5 Odds, Props and Predictions

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) celebrates in front of Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker (1) at the end of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
Aaron Gash/Associated Press

The 2-0 lead for the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals evaporated during a brief road trip to Milwaukee, where the Bucks evened the series at 2-2 heading into Saturday's critical Game 5.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's superhuman efforts finally received some help from his supporting cast during the two-game streak. In almost a cliche manner, Phoenix made some uncharacteristic mistakes in a hostile environment.

Now, a critical Game 5 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC, one that could create irreversible momentum for the winner before things shift back to Milwaukee on Tuesday for Game 6.

And for would-be bettors, things are more difficult to figure out now that the Bucks have come alive, which explains the close spread and conservative total props.


NBA Finals Game 5 Odds

Spread: Phoenix (-4)

Over/Under: 218.5

Moneyline: Phoenix -172 (bet $172 to win $100); Milwaukee +144 (bet $100 to win $144)


Preview and Prediction

Aaron Gash/Associated Press

It would be easy for a would-be bettor to look at everything surrounding this series, see that the Suns are 27-9 at home—including big wins in the first two games of this series—and chalk this up as an easy decision.

If only.

Those numbers are nice, but some uncharacteristic problems popped up for Phoenix over the past two games. The big one was savvy veteran Chris Paul suddenly struggling with turnovers. In Game 4, a 109-103 loss, he led the team with five, including two in the final five minutes with the game within five points.

While Paul fell into a slump, Khris Middleton finally awoke from a slumber for the Bucks, shooting 15-of-33 from the floor with 40 points, single-handedly counteracting a 42-point effort from Phoenix's Devin Booker. Add in Antetokounmpo's 26 for the big difference.

Point being, the cascading effect is real. The Bucks are a lethal team on the fast break, and if a player as reliable as Paul is turning over the ball, the Suns are only going to make things harder on themselves.

"They got a significant amount more shots than us, so for me I got to take care of the ball," Paul said after Game 4, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "We got 17 turnovers, we shoot the ball too well not to have those opportunities to score."

It's not just Paul—it's also Milwaukee's Jrue Holiday. While Holiday has been the subject of criticism for struggling offensively (he's averaging 15.3 points on 34.8 percent shooting after hitting 50.3 percent during the regular season), his defensive efforts can't go overlooked. According to NBA Stats, he's guarded Paul on 78 possessions and forced seven turnovers.

In short, any amount of amazing scoring from Booker could be rendered moot in a hurry:

StatMuse @statmuse

Suns: 51.3 FG% Bucks: 40.2 FG% The Suns are the first team in NBA history to lose a Finals game despite shooting better than 50% and holding their opponents below 42%. https://t.co/T6hdinNCGc

On the flip side, Milwaukee didn't need to shoot lights out while committing 12 fewer turnovers and dominating the glass.

With Middleton finally surging and the storyline about Antetokounmpo's injured knee an afterthought, it's hard to imagine the Bucks don't capitalize on the momentum acquired over the past two games. That would mean stealing the first road win of the series and going home with a chance to finish it all as champs.

Keep in mind that Phoenix's gaudy wins at home in the first two games of the series occurred largely because Antetokounmpo's supporting cast face-planted. With at least Middleton shaking it off, if the Suns keep assisting by fumbling into the Bucks' strengths, an upset might be in order.

Meaning, would-be bettors can't be blamed for expressing confidence in the Bucks on the spread. Ditto for the over given the likely major offensive outputs about to unfold from two of the game's biggest stars.

Prediction: Bucks 118, Suns 115


Statistics obtained from Basketball Reference.

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