The road team has yet to prevail during the NBA Finals. Phoenix seized control of the series by winning the first two games but the Bucks have stolen the momentum back after defending their home floor with back-to-back victories.
Tied at two games apiece, can Phoenix bounce back with a win at home versus Milwaukee in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night?
Middleton, Antetokounmpo Lead Bucks to Game 4 Win
Khris Middleton came up clutch on Wednesday night, scoring 40 points to lead Milwaukee to a 109-103 victory at home over the Suns in Game 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists on the night. He also added three steals and two blocks, including a game-changing rejection on an alley-oop attempt to Suns’ center DeAndre Ayton late in the fourth quarter.
CLUTCH BLOCK BY GIANNIS 😱 pic.twitter.com/jwB0b75o65
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 15, 2021
The Bucks trailed by as many as nine points in the final frame but rallied thanks in large part to Middleton, who took over offensively down the stretch. With the Bucks trailing 99-97 with 2:30 remaining, Middleton riled off a personal 8-0 run and scored the Bucks’ next 10 points to send the series back to Phoenix tied 2-2.
— NBA Philippines (@NBA_Philippines) July 15, 2021
The Bucks’ All-Star shooting guard has now made 15 game-tying or go-ahead baskets in the fourth quarter or overtime during Milwaukee’s playoff run, tying LeBron James for the most clutch baskets in a single postseason over the last 25 years. With at least two games remaining to determine an NBA Champion, Middleton seems destined to break the all-time mark.
Using scrappy perimeter defenders and a commitment to defending the 3-ball, Milwaukee has also found a way to flip the momentum on the other end of the floor as well. While Jrue Holiday may be struggling on offense, he’s spent more time and energy guarding Chris Paul over the last few games. Holiday’s ability to fight through screens has helped the Bucks defend the pick-and-roll and shrink the floor, allowing Milwaukee’s help defenders to stay closer to Suns’ shooters. Per NBA.com, the Bucks have limited opponents to just 106.4 points per 100 possessions during the NBA Playoffs, the best mark in the postseason.
Paul Apologizes for Costly Turnovers Following Game 4
Devin Booker scored 42 points on 17-for-28 shooting but it wasn’t enough for the Suns in a 109-103 loss versus the Bucks on Wednesday. Jae Crowder had 15 points while Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson finished with 10 points apiece in the Game 4 loss. Phoenix also got next to nothing from big man DeAndre Ayton on offense. While Ayton stuffed the stat sheet with 17 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, he finished with a pedestrian six points on the night.
For the second straight contest, the Suns went ice cold from 3-point range in Game 4. Since knocking down 20 of their 40 3-point attempts in Game 2, the Suns have connected on just 16 of their 54 shots from beyond the arc (29.6 percent) over the last two games combined. They shot 7-for-23 from behind the long line as a team on Wednesday night with Paul and Booker combining to go 0-for-5 from deep.
Chris Paul : 10 points (5-13 shooting & no FT attempts), 4 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 turnovers & 4 fouls in 37 minutes pic.twitter.com/sEpU443B91
— Lee Harvey (@AyeThatsLee) July 15, 2021
Normally one of the most reliable ball handlers in the NBA, turnovers have been a problem for Paul during Phoenix’s two losses. He slipped and lost the ball late in the deciding moments of Game 4, a gaffe that cost the Suns a chance to tie the game and directly led to a Bucks’ layup with under 30 seconds remaining.
Wednesday’s loss may have been a low point in Paul’s season as well. It marked the first time this year in which he had at least five turnovers and shot under 40 percent from the field. While Paul has developed a reputation for closing out games, Phoenix turned the ball over 17 times and blew a nine-point fourth-quarter lead in Game 4, evoking memories of his checkered playoff past.
Suns fans may have also noticed that there has been a disparaging discrepancy in free throw attempts between the two teams over the last two games. In Games 3 and 4, Milwaukee went to the free-throw line 55 times while Phoenix racked up just 35 combined free throw attempts in back-to-back losses.
The Suns tightened things up on defense in Game 4 before blowing the lid open in the fourth quarter. Phoenix limited the Bucks to just 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 24.1 percent shooting from 3-point range but allowed 33 fourth-quarter points on the night. According to NBA.com, Phoenix ranks third in the NBA Playoffs with a 108.1 defensive rating in 20 postseason games.
NBA Finals Betting Preview
The Suns enter Game 5 favored by four points at home and the projected total is set at a modest 218 points, the lowest number since the start of the NBA Finals. Bovada sportsbook has set the Suns as money line favorites with -165 odds while money line bettors can squeeze a little more value out of the Bucks at +145.
NBA Betting Trends
Trends can be valuable information for bettors looking to improve their NBA betting strategy.
Below is a shortlist of trends for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
- Bucks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 Saturday games.
- Bucks are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
- Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Suns are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games playing on 2 days rest.
NBA Finals Betting Predictions
Before we lay out our predictions and analysis for Saturday’s contest, let’s review how we performed in Game 4.
Game 4 Recap:
Money Line: Milwaukee Bucks (-185) ✅
Spread: Milwaukee Bucks -4.5 ( -110) ✅
Total: Under 220.5 ( -110) ✅
Props: Giannis Antetokounmpo to record a triple-double (+1450) ❌
We selected the Bucks to win on the money line and cover -4.5 as well as the game to stay under the projected 220 point total. All three of those selections were winners while our long-shot props bet for Giannis Antetokounmpo to record a triple-double at +1450 came up just short, as he finished two assists shy of the feat in the Bucks’ win.
Below, you can find more NBA betting predictions and analysis for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals Game 5 Spread Prediction:
Each of these teams has defended their home court in this series and the home team has also covered the spread in all four matchups. The Bucks have also struggled on the road against Phoenix, failing to cover the spread in each of the previous five meetings at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Look for those trends to come to an end here, as Phoenix comes into this game favored by a healthy four-point spread. Game 4 came down to the wire, so there should be a little value with taking the Bucks with the points in this spot. Phoenix has found ways to lose in each of the last two games and the Suns’ young roster has been wildly inconsistent through the first four contests. All the pressure is on Phoenix in this game. Look for the more experienced Bucks to cover the spread on the road in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday night.
NBA Finals Game 5 Money Line Prediction:
Milwaukee looks to have a major advantage on offense in this series. Not only are the Bucks more dangerous from the outside but they also have a considerable advantage in the paint as well. Antetokounmpo and Middleton are starting to look comfortable getting to their spots against the Suns’ defense, which helped Milwaukee overcome a poor shooting performance from 3-point range in Game 4. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 0-for-10 from beyond the arc in Wednesday’s win, something which seems bound to change as the series wears on. Take the Bucks to win on the money line and take a 3-2 series lead in Phoenix on Saturday.
NBA Finals Game 5 Total Prediction:
This game is projected for only 218 points, which is the lowest total that bettors have gotten during the NBA Finals. According to dunksandthrees.com, these two teams land at opposite ends of the pace spectrum, which should keep the tempo in check on Sunday. Milwaukee finished the regular season ranked second in the NBA in pace and average possession length on offense. Meanwhile, Phoenix ranked near the bottom of the league, coming in at 25th in pace and 21st in average possession length, respectively. Despite those numbers, there should still be some value on the over in this matchup. With the Suns playing at home, look for that free throw discrepancy to even itself out a bit, which should help add some points to Phoenix’s total in this game. Both teams also shot poorly from beyond the arc in Game 4, so look for some positive regression in that department after a few days off. Bet on Game 5 of the NBA Finals to go over the projected total on Saturday night.
NBA Finals Game 5 Player Props:
Bucks’ head coach Mike Budenholzer seems to have found something with his small-ball lineups against the Suns. As a result, unsung hero Pat Connaughton has earned a healthy dose of minutes off of the bench during the NBA Finals. The 28-year-old has attempted six 3-pointers per game during the series and is knocking them down at a healthy 46.8 percent clip. He’s hit at least two 3-pointers in all four games and is getting a healthy -120 odds to knock down two 3-pointers in Game 5. Take Pat Connaughton to go over -1.5 3-pointers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday evening.
Free Bets Available on Suns vs Bucks
Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.
Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.
The Grizzlies and Pelicans have agreed on a trade to send Jonas Valanciunas, 2021 Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 picks Nos. 10 and 40 and a protected 2022 first-round pick via the Lakers, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/q7ZoqzpJjt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 26, 2021
Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.
From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.
Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.
NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.
“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.
In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.
Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.
NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.
Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.
However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.
Raptors, Wolves, Cavs, Pacers and Kings have all showed interest in acquiring Ben Simmons, per B/R's @JakeLFischer
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 25, 2021
Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.
On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.
Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.
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