The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks open the NBA Finals tonight in Phoenix. The two major storylines to start the series center around Chris Paul’s long-awaited first trip to the Finals and the health of Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Let’s dive into Game 1 of the NBA Finals with a closer look at three best bets for Bucks vs. Suns, complete with full analysis.

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Paul has weathered a shoulder injury and a bout with COVID-19 to help lead his Suns to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993, when a Charles Barkley-led Phoenix team lost out to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. The franchise has never won an NBA title and became the first team in league history to make it here after missing the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons.

3 Best Bets for Bucks vs. Suns (NBA Finals Game 1)

Milwaukee can claim one title in its long team history, but has not reached this point in nearly 50 years (1974). With Antetokounmpo questionable at best to play in Game 1, the Bucks will need their other stars, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, to have big performances on the road if they hope to jump out to a 1-0 series lead tonight.

We sized up the game and its individuals and identified three NBA Finals Game 1 best bets we think bring strong value to the table tonight. We share those with you now, accompanied by the reasoning behind each selection.

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Mikal Bridges Over 1.5 Made Threes (FanDuel Sportsbook -144)

We witnessed the health of Bogdan Bogdanovic’s knee return during the Bucks-Hawks series, followed immediately by a three-point barrage. He made 15 threes in the final three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, but the truly mind-boggling number was his 35 long-range attempts in that span.

To get off that many shots from deep, there is obvious space to be found against this Bucks defense and Bridges is the perfect guy to exploit that space tonight. The 6’6” wing will likely benefit from the attention paid to Chris Paul and Devin Booker and should certainly get enough looks from beyond the arc against the league’s second worst 3-point field goal percentage defense to cash this prop bet.

Milwaukee also allowed the third-most road triples in the NBA this season, giving up 14.8 threes per away game. Bridges has quietly made multiple 3-pointers in nine of the team’s 16 playoff games thus far. He also made 2+ from deep 37 times during the regular season, including 10 times in his team’s final 12 games. Bridges sunk 3+ threes in each of Phoenix’s two regular season games against the Bucks, shooting a combined 8-10 from deep in those outings.

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Jae Crowder Over 17.5 Total Points, Rebounds & Assists (FanDuel Sportsbook -128)

Ironically, Jae Crowder has averaged precisely 17.5 combined points, rebounds, and assists thus far in the playoffs. However, we don’t think this wager will be a nail-biter like that fact might suggest.

First, Crowder is the only player on either team with NBA Finals experience, as he logged six games of experience as a member of the Miami Heat last summer. That was entirely within the bubble and now he will be at home with the confidence of knowing his advantage over every other player tonight. We think he will rise to the occasion as a leader in this one, contributing on all fronts and making short work of this prop total.

This stance of the stage not being too big for the Suns’ wing really takes hold when you look at his performances in big games for Phoenix throughout this postseason. In his three Game 1s, he averaged 18.7 combined points, rebounds, and assists, while also seeing his minutes increase in each. In the three closeout games, Crowder posted point-rebound-assist totals of 26, 20, and 25, good for a 23.7 average. And in Game 4 of the Lakers series, the only time Phoenix trailed in a series during the playoffs, Crowder played 35 minutes, tallying 17 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, easily topping this prop’s number with that combined value of 28.

In his one meeting with Milwaukee on this court this season, Crowder posted a season-high in rebounds with 14 as part of a combined 22 points-rebounds-assists. Seeing the success the athletic Hawks wings had on the glass against Milwaukee leaves us confident that Crowder will be due for another big night here in Game 1.

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Brook Lopez Over 15.5 Points (DraftKings Sportsbook -122)

With Antetokounmpo’s injury, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis have been thrust squarely into the limelight and have responded wonderfully.

Lopez posted a playoff career-high 33 points in Antetokounmpo’s absence in Game 5 of the Hawks series, going 14-18 from the field, interestingly with none of those baskets coming from beyond the arc.

He logged 38 and 39 minutes in Games 5 and 6, respectively, and he should be prepped for another big minutes effort tonight with an extra day of rest under his belt.

Of some comfort here, Lopez averaged his most minutes and most points per game on two days of rest this season, also getting off his most shot attempts and long range attempts per game in those spots.

We also think Lopez may find a matchup he can exploit offensively in this series. Deandre Ayton, the Suns’ 6’11” center, is the logical man match for Lopez, who is 7’0”, as Phoenix doesn’t start anyone else over 6’6”.

However, Ayton’s mobility on the perimeter is limited and pulling him out wide leaves Phoenix vulnerable in the lane. Ayton’s endurance has also been in question late in games during the postseason, which could leave a hustle guy like Lopez open for some easy buckets as the game wears on.

Lopez has quietly totaled 15+ points in seven of his team’s 17 playoff games, while only seeing the 38+ type minutes he’s likely to get tonight in one game, the overtime Game 7 against Brooklyn.

Lopez was a better scorer on the road (13.0 points per game) than at home this season (11.5 ppg), logging more minutes per game away, as well. His scoring since the All-Star break has jumped over three points from beforehand, proving his increasing importance to the team’s success.

 

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