Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire)
- After strong Game 1 win, Phoenix seeks to hold home court in Game 2 vs Bucks
- Chris Paul dominated in Finals’ debut, scoring 32 points
- Get the odds, injury report, preview, and Game 2 prediction below
The Phoenix Suns struck first in the NBA Finals. Now they’ll try to extend to a 2-0 series lead when they host the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 Thurdsay night.
Despite the 118-105 loss, perhaps the best news of all was that Giannis Antetokunmpo made it back to the lineup for the first time since suffering a leg injury that forced him out the last two games.
Even with the 2-time MVP looking healthy and a full go for the next game, oddsmakers have made the home-side Suns a 5.5-point favorite.
Bucks vs Suns Game 2 Odds
|Team||Spread at FanDuel||Moneyline||Total|
|Milwaukee Bucks||+5.5 (-110)||+194||Ov 219.5 (-110)|
|Phoenix Suns||-5.5 (-110)||-240||Un 219.5 (-110)|
Odds as of July 7th. Tip-off is Thursday at 9pm ET
The only new injury reported since Game 1 of the NBA Finals has been Phoenix backup big man Dario Saric, who suffered an ACL tear in the first quarter of the Finals. He’s out for the rest of this season. For the Bucks, Antetokounmpo’s hyperextended left knee held up well in his first action since going down in Game 4 of the East Finals. He finshed with 20 points and 17 boards in his Finals’ debut.
Already battling a bad right hand, Suns guard Chris Paul needed medical attention for what looked like a left hand/wrist injury during Game 1. When asked about the ailment in a postgame interview with Malika Andrews, Paul said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Bucks vs Suns Projected Lineups
|Jrue Holiday||PG||Chris Paul|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Devin Booker|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SF||Mikal Bridges|
|PJ Tucker||PF||Jae Crowder|
|Brook Lopez||C||Deandre Ayton|
The high-octane backcourt of Paul and Devin Booker lived up to their top billing in Game 1. CP3, playing in the first Finals’ game of his stellar 16-year career, went for a game-high 32 points and nine assists on a crisp 12-for-19 from the field.
Elite company 👀
Chris Paul is the first player with 30 points and 8 assists in an #NBAFinals debut since Michael Jordan in 1991. pic.twitter.com/6gNKVNQvcd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 7, 2021
His bevy of scoring options in the third quarter, where he went for 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting broke open a fairly bottled game. He was relentless when switches left Bucks big men Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis on an island.
As for Book, he served as the offensive catalyst to get the Suns going, dropping 12 points in the first quarter, en route to a 27-point, 6-rebound, 3-steal performance.
This was clean, Devin Booker 🤭#NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/Lm0TWRvlan
— ESPN (@espn) July 7, 2021
He was aggressive and in attack mode all evening, evidenced by getting to the stripe and going 10-for-10. That was one more make than the entire Bucks’ team.
DEANDRE AYTON 🔥
22 PTS, 19 REB, 80% FG
1st Finals GMS
Duncan: 33 PTS, 16 REB, 61% FG
Dream: 33 PTS, 12 REB, 60% FG
Kareem: 31 PTS, 17 REB, 81% FG
Shaq: 26 PTS, 16 REB, 9 AST, 62%
Moses: 13 PTS, 15 REB, 23% FG
Admiral: 13 PTS, 9 REB, 30% FG
Dwight: 12 PTS, 15 REB, 17% FG pic.twitter.com/t9iSGeq4Og
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) July 7, 2021
They were buoyed by another standout performance from Deandre Ayton. The Phoenix big man splashed onto the Finals’ scene by scoring 22 points and grabbing 19 rebounds while shooting 80% from the field. Only Lew Alcindor’s Bucks’ debut in the 1971 Finals crossed the 20-point, 15-board, 80% shooting performance threshold.
Bucks Other Stars Silent
While Giannis’ performance was below his usual level of play, it was still a mighty Finals’ debut, but his other costars fell short in vaulting Milwaukee to a win in Game 1.
BLOCKED BY GIANNIS. pic.twitter.com/JPuX3ikONA
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) July 7, 2021
Khris Middleton finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but he needed 26 shots to reach that total. Meanwhile, Jrue Holiday shot just 4-for-14 from the field to finish with 10 points, while adding nine asssists and seven rebounds. He also missed all four three-point attempts.
What Khris Middleton did to Torrey Craig should be illegal 😂 pic.twitter.com/gd0bmrtzg1
— Justin Wills (@itsjwills) July 7, 2021
A move many have been clamoring for — as teams have targeted Lopez in the pick-and-roll game — finally happened, as Mike Budenholzer moved Giannis to the 5, dotting the rest of the floor with shooting for most of the fourth quarter as they tried to get back into it.
A flagrant 1 was called on Brook Lopez after this play with CP3. pic.twitter.com/J95YyqLD3x
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 7, 2021
That’s probably why the Bucks didn’t enjoy their usual paint dominance. After averaging close to 60 points per game in the paint vs the Hawks in the East Final, They were outscored 44-42 by the Suns in Game 1.
What’s the Best Bet?
It’s hard to bet against the home team, who have lost just twice these playoffs at home after a 27-9 regular season mark. Milwaukee has gone 2-1 in Game 2’s this playoffs, with dominating wins against the Hawks and Heat, while getting crushed by the Nets.
A Phoenix hot start will be the key to this one: if they have a lead after they first quarter by more than one point, the Suns are 10-1 in the playoffs.
I think Milwaukee keeps this one closer, though the double-trouble shot-creating ability of Paul and Booker carries the Suns to a 2-0 series lead.
Pick: Bucks +5.5 (-110)
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgeable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.