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Bettors backing favored Phoenix Suns in NBA Finals Game 1

Jul 5, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul during NBA Finals Media Day at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are being strongly backed by the public despite being heavy favorites at home in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Suns are 6.0-point favorites at DraftKings, where they are responsible for only 40 percent of the total bets but 60 percent of the spread line handle. Meanwhile, Phoenix’s -240 moneyline to win Game 1 outright is being backed by 84 percent of the bets and 85 percent of the bets.

The story is similar at FanDuel, where the Suns are 5.5-point favorites. Their spread line is being backed by 63 percent of the bets and 71 percent of the total money, with their -235 moneyline backed by 80 percent of the bets and 82 percent of the money.

Phoenix had been bet down from a 6.5-point favorite at FanDuel earlier Tuesday.

Both franchises are ending long Finals droughts. Neither has been this deep in the playoffs in 28 years.

Milwaukee, which has not been to the Finals since 1974, has just one title, while the Suns return to the championship round for the first time since 1993 having never won it all.

A second NBA title for Milwaukee likely will hinge on the health of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was upgraded to questionable on Tuesday with a left knee injury. Antetokounmpo hyperextended the knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals and has not played since.

The Bucks still won the last two games of the conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks.

“Just continue to play aggressive,” Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday said of the team’s mindset amid the lingering uncertainty surrounding Antetokounmpo. “No letdowns because the way Giannis plays there are no letdowns. … He brings so much to his team, he does so much for us, losing that will really be hard for us, so continue to be aggressive.”

The Suns have worked through their own availability issues with a superstar. Phoenix survived three playoff rounds, even as point guard Chris Paul was forced to work his way through a shoulder injury in the first round and a COVID-19 hiatus at the outset of the Western finals.

Paul is back into the flow, delivering a clutch 41-point performance in the conference final-clinching victory against the Los Angeles Clippers, even with a sore right hand. Devin Booker scored 22 points and averaged 25.5 points in the series.

“I think the guys feel really good about where we are,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “We have had a few days to heal and get back in the gym, and we have had some really good practices. … Guys are ready to play. That’s been the sentiment for the last couple of days.”

Phoenix’s re-emergence was years in the making as they drafted Booker and Deandre Ayton, but a championship run became realistic once Paul arrived. The Suns are the first team to make the NBA Finals after missing the playoffs in each of the previous 10 seasons.

The Bucks’ arrival came a few years earlier, earning the Eastern Conference’s best regular-season record in 2018-19. But a Finals appearance has escaped them, and it looked as if the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets had better NBA Finals prospects this year.

Like the Suns, the arrival of a point guard has helped the Bucks. Holiday runs the floor in Milwaukee now, helping Antetokounmpo (28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds in the playoffs) and Khris Middleton (23.4 points, 8.0 rebounds) draw within four victories of a title.

The Suns and Bucks have met twice this season, with Phoenix winning by a point each time. The Suns earned a 125-124 victory on Feb. 10 as Antetokounmpo missed a 19-footer at the buzzer. The Suns won again 128-127 in overtime at Milwaukee on April 19 as four Phoenix starters scored at least 20 points.

The Over/Under for the total points in Game 1 has been set at 218.5 at DraftKings, where the Over is being backed by 67 percent of the bets but 53 percent of the money has been wagered on the Under.

The 219.5 Over/Under at FanDuel has seen 80 percent of the bets and 84 percent of the money placed on the Over.

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–Field Level Media