MILWAUKEE — Game 4 of the NBA Finals became a pendulum event in the best-of-seven NBA Finals when the Bucks buried the Phoenix Suns in a 20-point rout Sunday.
The 120-100 victory sets up the opportunity for the Bucks to even the series 2-all on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee is being backed by 51 percent of the bets and 59 percent of the money as 4.0-point favorites at DraftKings. The spread is the same at PointsBet, where the action is more split with 51 percent of the bets backing the Bucks but 56 percent of the spread line handle supporting the Suns.
PointsBet also reported that its biggest Game 4 liability is Phoenix’s +165 moneyline, which is being backed by 79 percent of the money wagered and 57 percent of the bets. The Suns’ +160 moneyline at DraftKings has been backed by 66 percent of the bets while the Bucks’ -190 moneyline has drawn 53 percent of the money.
Up 2-0 after a pair of home wins to open the series, Sunday’s lopsided loss sent the Suns searching for answers to critical concerns that arose in Game 3.
“They took it to us. No other way to look at it,” Suns coach Monty Williams said of his takeaway from reviewing the game film preparing for Game 4.
“When we get five guys back (on defense) along with attacking the offensive glass, I know we’re playing with force. Both ends, just the relentless sprinting, getting to the corners on offense and building the wall (on defense). When we do it, we give our self a chance to be successful.”
After scoring 118 points to win Games 1 and 2, the Suns were overwhelmed in the second quarter of Game 3 and couldn’t find their footing. They also had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“I have to do better,” Williams said. “Our players get in line with that. Across the board, we have to have a better understanding of the type of team we’re going to play from here on out.”
Antetokounmpo scored 20 points in Game 1, his first game in a week due to the knee injury incurred in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. Since then, the 26-year-old flipped to bulldog mode. He turned in back-to-back 40-point games (83 total), the first to do so in the Finals since LeBron James. Only Michael Jordan, with four consecutive 40-plus point efforts in the Finals, has sustained a higher level of scoring production.
Bettors are expecting another offensive showcase Wednesday night.
The Over/Under for total points scored is 220.5 at both sportsbooks, with the Over being backed by 76 percent of the bets and 72 percent of the money at DraftKings and 74 and 76, respectively, at PointsBet.
Defensive breakdowns were only one concern for the Suns in Game 3.
Star Suns guard Devin Booker was off from the opening tip on Sunday. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter and was 3 of 14 from the field, 1 of 7 from 3-point range, for 10 points.
“Simply, you just have to be better if you want to win the game,” Booker said of his mindset entering Wednesday’s game. “It’s a good pressure. These are the moments you prepare for, train for, is what we’re in right now. You have to be prepared for it.”
Phoenix remains favored to win the series at PointsBet, where the Suns opened as -170 favorites to win the title and are currently being offered at -250. Those odds lengthened from a low of -500 when the Suns held a 2-0 series lead, but Phoenix is still backed by 61 percent of the series bet handle.
Milwaukee opened at +145, lengthened to +380 ahead of Game 3 and is now being offered at +200. The Bucks have been backed by 66 percent of the series bets at PointsBet.
Milwaukee doesn’t need to rewind far to find the most recent instance of a team rebounding from a 2-0 Finals hole. In 2016, the Cavaliers fell behind 2-0 and 3-1 to the 73-win Golden State Warriors, then rallied for the O’Brien Trophy.
The Miami Heat climbed back from 0-2 in 2006, but it has happened four times out of 35 chances in Finals history.
–By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media