After upsetting the Phoenix Suns in Game 5, the Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA championship in half a century. But not so fast. Phoenix will look to return the favor by beating them on their own court to extend the series to Game 7.
Milwaukee will be big favorites Tuesday according to the online sportsbook. At -200, the Bucks are implied to have a two-in-three chance of beating Phoenix. The spread is at five points, which may be worth taking as the Bucks finish the job in front of their home fans.
Suns: Digging Deep
The Suns face elimination, a situation they haven’t seen themselves in these NBA Playoffs though it won’t bother them. This team is not new to adversity after going down 2-1 against the Lakers and losing Chris Paul to quarantine against the Clippers.
Phoenix has still been the more effective offensive team. The Suns hit 13-of-19 3-pointers in Game 5 and had eight turnovers to 23 assists. The Suns did in fact, play their type of basketball. But they made turnovers at costly times and missed crucial shots down the stretch. They also couldn’t stop Giannis Antetokounmpo.
If Phoenix has anything left, it can hope to not just stop Antetokounmpo but the rest of the Bucks. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 56 points on nearly 56% shooting. Holiday owned Paul, something that Paul needs to avenge if Phoenix is to live for another game.
Bucks: Career-Defining Moments
The Bucks not only played their best game against the Suns in Game 5, but they played their best offense in the entire playoffs. Milwaukee shot 57.5% from the field including 50% from “3” (14-of-28). A lot of the credit goes to Holiday who turned in a career-defining performance.
Holiday had 27 points and 13 assists with just two turnovers. He also had three steals including a critical one against Devin Booker in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to help seal Milwaukee’s victory. Antetokounmpo also added 32 points.
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— NBA (@NBA) July 19, 2021
Milwaukee played tremendously on offense. But to finish off Phoenix, the Bucks will go to their bread-and-butter, which is their defense. Expect the Bucks to lean on their playoff-leading home defense, especially if their offense slows down a little.
Pick: Bringing It Home
While the last game was a high-scoring affair as we predicted, look for Game 6 to be on the opposite end: a defensive grind. Being desperate, the Suns will be more physical and challenge Milwaukee more.
This should fall into the style that Milwaukee likes to play. The Bucks are big and physical and will use that to their advantage yet again. Even if their shooting won’t be as hot as Game 5, Milwaukee can command the paint and crash the glass.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 32.2 points and 13 rebounds. He’s getting to the line 13 times and even if he’s still just shooting 59.1%, his constant attack wears down Phoenix’s defenders.
Milwaukee should win. Taking the Bucks at -200 is an “okay” proposition, but five points on the spread is a better deal on the NBA odds.
Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -5 (-110)
Bonus Pick: My Turn
Antetokounmpo pretty much has the Finals MVP locked up, but Middleton at home is another kind of beast. Other than one game, Middleton has been red-hot at home.
He scored 40 points the other night and is averaging 25 points with a 500/426/857 shooting line. Three of his four highest-scoring games have come at home. Antetokounmpo will get his, but at +350 it’s worth taking a shot on Middleton scoring more.