After an emphatic win in Sunday night’s Game 3, the Milwaukee Bucks now look to even the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Milwaukee is -180 online betting favorites to tie things up while Phoenix is +160. These numbers are identical to Game 3 even after the Bucks blew out the Suns by 20 points.
GIannis Antetokounmpo had another 40-point outing and has carried the Bucks in the series, where they are still underdogs at +215 per the NBA series prices. Now would be one an opportune time to bet the Bucks for Game 4 and to win the series.
Suns: Hakuna Matata
Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns are not worried. Not in the slightest. Despite suffering their worst defeat of the playoffs, the Suns still hold a 2-1 series advantage and remaiin significant favorites to win the NBA title, according to the NBA odds.
But Phoenix will have to make Milwaukee work harder in Game 4. The Suns started off right in the first period in Game 3 but the wheels came off in the second. Phoenix committed five turnovers and was outscored 35-17.
The sloppy play would doom the Suns as they would commit 14 turnovers. Four of their five losses in these playoffs have resulted from high turnover games. But they’ll also need to shoot better from three as they hit just 9-of-31 (29 percent) in Game 3. Overall, Phoenix needs to get back to playing efficiently to keep applying pressure on Milwaukee.
Bucks: One-Man Army
The Milwaukee Bucks have not played their best in the NBA Finals and yet they’re back in the series. Thank Antetokounmpo, who is now just behind Paul as far as the Finals MVP race goes. The “Greek Freak” emphasized on “Freak” by averaging 34.3 points, 14 rebounds, and a combined 2.6 steals and blocks. He’s also scoring at a 62.5 percent clip.
Antetokounmpo is making up for the lacking production from his fellow stars. Jrue Holiday had a decent outing in Game 3 but is still averaging just 16 points on 38.8 percent shooting. Khris Middleton has also been inconsistent and is averaging 19.3 points on 41.4 percent shooting.
But Milwaukee has revitalized its defensive prowess to more than compensate for its offensive shortcomings. The team averaged a 104.9 defensive rating in Game 3, its best mark since Game 2 against the Atlanta Hawks. It also averaged 30.2 on offensive rebounding percentage and forced Phoenix to a 13.5 percent turnover rate. Pound the glass and disrupt the offense. It’s not rocket science.
Pick: Fear the Deer
Milwaukee is on another level when it plays at home, as it displayed in the last game. The Bucks managed to discombobulate the Suns’ usually ultra-efficient offense. The team averages a 99.7 defensive rating at home for the playoffs, by far the best mark among all 16 postseason teams.
The Bucks also haul in 51.1 boards. Overall, Milwaukee is forcing opponents like Phoenix into either turning the ball over or taking bad shots before cleaning up the glass. This has to be Milwaukee’s M.O. for the remainder of the series.
The Bucks are large and athletic. That’s been a big reason why they have gotten to this point even if they have been so frustratingly inconsistent on offense. Against the smaller Suns, Milwaukee can continue dominating inside as they even the series.
Pick: Milwaukee Bucks – 4½
Bonus Pick: Going all the Way
Milwaukee will win Game 4 and even the series. But even with their improved play and momentum, Phoenix will find a way to win Game 5 and this series will go all seven. At an underdog price, it’s worth taking a side bet on the NBA Finals going all the way.