Usually when the Milwaukee Bucks hit the floor, they can count on being able to play defense without fouling the opposition on play after play. But in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it didn't work that way against the Phoenix Suns, who simply couldn't miss.
So here's the question - what can the Bucks do to get things all even in Game 2? We discuss this with BetOnline customers and others.
The Bucks have allowed their opponents to get to the free throw line less frequently than any team in the NBA. So understandably it was a real downer when the Suns got 26 chances from the charity stripe in Game 1. That created a lot of anxiety on the part of head coach Mike Budenholzer, as did the fact that the Suns made 25 of those attempts. Phoenix has been a deadly accurate free throw-shooting team in the playoffs, making 86.2%.
The biggest beneficiary was Devin Booker, who's not in a bad position to draw fouls,since he's not overly dependent upon triples (indeed, he made just one out of eight in Game 1) and has taken the most shots from mid-range in the postseason. And he knows how to cash in as well; with ten successful attempts out of ten, Booker brought his playoff accuracy to 92%.
There was the hint, at Budenholzer's post-game press conference, that his team got a rather raw deal from the officials. Well, I guess it makes sense to plant the seed.
In the NBA Finals betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline:
Phoenix Suns -5.5 (-115)
Milwaukee Bucks +5.5 (-105)
Over 219.5 points -110
Under 219.5 points -110
Jrue Holiday needs to be the guy who asserts himself defensively for the Bucks. And he is fully capable of it, as a member of the NBA's All-Defensive team. Holiday's offense may have to suffer, and frankly, it was a bit surprising that he has had almost no success shooting the ball from long-range, as he is below 30% for the playoffs.
That's why when we look at the BetOnline prop for Holiday's points/rebounds/assists, there is no other way than to go under 32.5 (-108). We're simply not counting on a lot of scoring from him, and he's been overachieving in the assist category, at least judging from his regular season numbers.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was not expected to play in Game 1, with his hyper-extended knee. But he rehabbed a little and then offered a very encouraging workout that gave him the green light, and he responded with 20 points and 17 rebounds. As he was shaking off some rust there, perhaps we might be able to expect more. He was just 7-of-12 at the line, but let's not forget that he is far and away the biggest threat in the paint throughout these playoffs, averaging 20 points in that capacity as he entered the Finals.
If you're looking at this from the Phoenix perspective, you're going to say that the Suns are likely to shoot better than 32.4% from three-point territory, and that Milwaukee couldn't repeat 44.4% again. That could be true, but the Bucks stand a decent chance of being able to avoid the kind of dilemma that permitted the Suns to outscore them by 13 points from the line, which by coincidence was the difference in Game 1.
So Milwaukee looks to us to be a bargain of sorts grabbing 5.5 points.
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