LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 24: Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton (22) looks to pass during the Phoenix Suns game versus the Los Angeles Clippers game 3 NBA Western Conference Finals game on June 24, 2021, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- The NBA Finals begin Tuesday night with the Milwaukee Bucks visiting the Phoenix Suns for Game 1
- With Giannis Antetokounmpo’s status uncertain, the Suns are favored in the series and are 5.5-point favorites in Game 1
- What are the sharp bettors doing? How can you be like them? Strategy explained in the article below.
This season’s NBA Championship odds have been all over the map. Remember when the Los Angeles Lakers were favored? Then the Brooklyn Nets? Then the Philadelphia 76ers?
The bank accounts of the big sportsbooks and their investors are lined with the money that gamblers wagered and lost on those three teams. They’re still taking wagers on the NBA Finals, so let’s look at the series odds.
Bucks vs Suns Series Odds
|Team||Moneyline to Win Series at DraftKings||Series Correct Score: Sweep||Series Correct Score: 5 Games||Series Correct Score: 6 Games||Series Correct Score: 7 Games|
|Milwaukee Bucks||+152||Bucks in 4 (+800)||Bucks in 5 (+400)||Bucks in 6 (+450)||Bucks in 7 (+400)|
|Phoenix Suns||-182||Suns in 4 (+1600)||Suns in 5 (+800)||Suns in 6 (+500)||Suns in 7 (+550)|
Odds as of July 5th
Which Team Are the Sharps Betting On?
That data is still being compiled, and sharps are prone to waiting until they know exactly who is playing before making their wagers.
“Currently, the betting public is mostly split for the Finals, with the Bucks having a slight edge with 56% of the money and 52% of the wagers,” said Scott Cooley, a spokesman for Sportsbetting.com. “SportsBetting.com is a winner no matter who wins this series, and it’s safe to assume that for most other books in the world. Certainly, there is some sharp liability with this matchup, but these are two teams that aren’t generally backed by the public so we’re in a great position in terms of the futures market.”
Jeff Sherman of LV Sportsbook said there have seen absolutely no sharp play on the over/under but some sharp play on the Suns to win the series at -150, which he attributed to the lines being properly placed and everyone awaiting word on Antetokounmpo.
“A lot of times during the regular season the sharps will jump on the over/under the moment it is posted if it is way off, but that is not happening here,” Sherman said. “Look, the Brooklyn-Milwaukee games during the regular season were very high-scoring, but their playoff games were not. So there is a lot of respect out there for Phoenix’s defense.”
At Sherman’s book, they are expecting Giannis to sit out until Game 3 if the Bucks are down 0-2 and until Game 4 if the series is 1-1 after two games.
DraftKings Sportsbook took some “semi-sharp” action Monday when they moved the line from 5.5 to 6, prompting them to move it back, head oddsmaker Johnny Avello said. “Overall we are not seeing a lot of sharp play, but that is pretty much a function of everyone waiting to see what Giannis will do. If all of a sudden he’s playing, that line drops to something like 2. The semi-sharps probably were thinking 6 was a nice line to take the Bucks at whether or not Giannis plays.”
At PointsBet, the Nets took 22 percent of bets and 35 percent of handle, and about 13 percent of bets and handle were on the Lakers, spokesman Wyatt Yearout said.
“The Suns are the top liability for the book, with 17% percent of handle on Phoenix. However, when factoring in odds, the Suns aren’t even in the top 5 in terms of overall liability. Furthermore, the Bucks are 4th in both bets and handle, however they are outside of the top 15 in terms of liability in the futures market, so naturally the book will be rooting for Milwaukee. With neither team in the Finals not in the top 5 in terms of liability, overall it has been a solid NBA playoffs for the book,” Yearout said.
What is The Biggest Unknown In This Series Besides Giannis?
That is easy. Is this going to be a high-scoring series? Or will it be the exact opposite of what transpired when these teams met during the NBA regular season.
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) July 4, 2021
In their first meeting on Feb. 10, the Suns won 125-124 despite 47 points from Antetokounmpo, but the Bucks were not at full strength. Jrue Holiday was out due to COVID protocols, and the starting guards were Bryn Forbes and Donte DiVincenzo. P.J. Tucker had not yet been acquired, and D.J. Augustin had not yet been traded. Antetokounpo was 15-for-23, getting mostly layups and dunks, but missed a 20-footer at the buzzer for the win.
In their second meeting on April 19 in Milwaukee, the Suns won 128-127 in overtime after Tucker fouled Devin Booker as the buzzer sounded. Officials reviewed the play and put 0.3 seconds on the clock, and he made one of two for the win and a sweep of the season series.
Chris Sheridan has been covering sports gambling since 2018 when PASPA was overturned. a veteran journalist with 30+ years experience covering sports for the Associated Press, ESPN, SheridanHoops and BasketballNews.com, he has been at the forefront of sports gambling coverage since it was legalized.