The scuttlebutt is that Mike Budenholzer is being out-coached by Monty Williams. Well, maybe that's an explanation as to why the Phoenix Suns are off to a 2-0 lead in games over the Milwaukee Bucks, but BetOnline customers know it's probably not the only reason.
The Bucks, to this point, simply aren't getting all the offense they may have been expecting from some of their top guns.
Don't include Giannis Antetokounmpo among them. The two-time NBA MVP seemed to surprise everybody when he came back to action after missing two games of the series against Atlanta with a hyperextended knee. After a Game 1 effort when he scored 20 points, he came back with 42, and so Milwaukee is a little bit more secure as to whether he is close to full strength.
What they are NOT too secure about is the performance they have gotten out of, for example, Khris Middleton, who has made just six of his 18 three-point attempts, and Jrue Holiday, who has hit only 31.4% of his shots overall in the two games.
And the defense is another story. It has thus far been impossible to stop Devin Booker and Chris Paul, and it appears everybody on the Phoenix side is a three-point specialist now.
In the NBA Finals betting odds on this game, as they are posted at BetOnline, the Bucks are laying points as they return to their home court:
Milwaukee Bucks -4.5
Phoenix Suns +4.5
Over 221.5 points -110
Under 221.5 points -110
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These teams met twice during the regular season, with Phoenix winning both meetings by a single point on the strength of free throws by Booker. Giannis had a total of 80 points in those games, so you better believe his presence was going to be critical to any efforts by the Bucks.
In those two encounters, Milwaukee posted a margin of +14 points with Brook Lopez on the floor and minus-16 without him. In this particular series, the Bucks are +4 when he's out there, and minus-27 when he's on the bench. That is a tremendous disparity.
The Bucks, as a rule, allow a lot of three-point attempts but not a lot of free throw attempts. In fact, they surrender more triples and fewer free throws than anyone. In Game 1 they got burned by Phoenix at the line, as the Suns made 25 of 26. In Game 2, they saw the Suns sink 20 of 40 from beyond the three-point arc.
So they can't win for losing, right?
It's our feeling that they will come out strong on Sunday night. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll wind up winning, or covering; after all, they are going up against a sensational road club that has won 30 of 44 straight-up as the visitor.
But the Bucks have gone 29-12-1 ATS as first-half favorite at home. And if there was any time to pull a good start out of the gate, we'd say it was now. So it's the Bucks -3.5 points for the first half.
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