Since going down 0-2, Milwaukee has seized command of the NBA Finals with three straight wins, putting Phoenix on the brink of elimination. On Saturday, the Suns came up short down the stretch for the second straight contest, losing another close matchup in Game 5. Now, to keep its season alive, Phoenix will have to win on the road in Milwaukee where the Bucks are 9-1 during the NBA Playoffs. The Bucks are vying for their first NBA title since 1974.
Can Milwaukee clinch the NBA Championship with a win at home against the Suns on Tuesday night?
Booker stays hot but Suns can’t cool off Bucks in Game 5 loss
Devin Booker scored 40 points for the second consecutive game but the Suns were unable to bounce back in a 123-119 loss at home versus the Bucks in Game 5. Down 10 with under 3:30 remaining in regulation, Phoenix mounted a furious comeback and trailed by just one point with 56 seconds left before Booker committed a crucial turnover on the ensuing possession to seal the Suns’ fate. Chris Paul chipped in 21 points and handed out 11 assists while DeAndre Ayton added 20 points and 10 boards in the loss.
DEVIN. BOOKER. pic.twitter.com/7wY8iWtz4E
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) July 18, 2021
After shooting under 33 percent from deep in Games 3 and 4, the Suns managed to shoot the ball well from 3-point range in Saturday’s loss. Phoenix shot 68.4 percent from 3-point range in Game 5 on 19 attempts (13-for-19) and all of the Suns’ starters with the exception of Ayton recorded at least two makes from beyond the arc.
Defense was the difference for Phoenix in their two victories and it will need another stellar effort on that end of the floor to send the NBA Finals back to Talking Stick Resort Arena for a potential Game 7. The Suns’ defense was on point early in Game 5 and forced 11 Milwaukee turnovers on the night, their highest total since Game 1. Phoenix also contested more than half (50.5 percent) of Milwaukee’s 87 field goal attempts. However, that mark was actually down from Games 1 through 4 (53 percent) and the Bucks ended up shooting a healthy 50 percent from 3-point range.
Deandre Ayton is anchoring the Suns’ defense at an elite level! #NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure reveals how effectively Ayton is altering shots at the rim. Tune-in to Game 3 as the Suns take on the Bucks at 8:00pm/et on ABC. pic.twitter.com/DbvAy5JR06
— NBA (@NBA) July 11, 2021
With the Greek Freak dominating the paint, the Suns defense has had to pick their poison in recent games. Phoenix ranked fifth in the NBA during the regular season in effective 3-point percentage defense, so look for the Suns to get back to defending the 3-point line in Game 6.
Milwaukee can clinch its first NBA Championship since 1974
Milwaukee overcame an early 16-point deficit to steal Game 5 of the NBA Finals with a 123-119 win on the road in Phoenix on Saturday. In a must-win game, the Bucks’ Big Three turned in their most efficient performance of the series, combining to shoot 38-for-66 (57.6 percent) in the win. Giannis Anteotokounmpo finished with 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists while Khris Middleton added 29 points for the Bucks, who took a 3-2 series lead.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 19, 2021
While the Bucks’ All-Stars played well, the night belonged to Jrue Holiday. The Buck’s guard finished with 27 points, 13 assists, and three steals, including a clutch theft from Suns’ star Devin Booker on the most crucial defensive possession of the game. Holiday has found himself at the right place and time defensively as of late and came up with another game-changing play on Saturday. He was also the primary defender on Paul before he turned the ball over on a pick-and-roll in the late stages of Game 4 as well.
Defense ➡️ Offense
Jrue Holiday is doing it all 😤 pic.twitter.com/71sp2nW0Ei
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 18, 2021
Just one win away from the NBA Championship, Milwaukee will try to stay the course in Game 6. If the Bucks go on to win the NBA title, Holiday’s defense will be a big reason why. According to Second Spectrum, Holiday has been the primary defender on Paul and Booker for 268 possessions during the NBA Finals. During those matchups, he has held them to just 22 points per 100 possessions. Against all other Bucks defenders, the Suns’ duo is averaging 39.7 points per 100 possessions. That number is the just tip of the iceberg too. Holiday has forced Paul into an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers and Booker into eight.
NBA Finals Betting Preview
The Bucks come into Game 6 favored by five points at home and the projected total is set at 222 points, the highest number since the start of the series. Bovada sportsbook has set Milwaukee as money line favorites with -190 odds and money line bettors can squeeze a little more value out of Phoenix at +165.
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 6 of the NBA Finals.
- Bucks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Tuesday games.
- Bucks are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings
- Bucks are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings in Milwaukee
- Suns are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 road games.
- Suns are 20-8 ATS in their last 28 games following an ATS loss.
- Suns are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 Tuesday games.
NBA Finals Betting Predictions
Before we get to our predictions and analysis for Tuesday’s contest, let’s go back and see how we performed in Game 5.
Game 5 Recap:
Money Line: Milwaukee Bucks (+145) ✅
Spread: Milwaukee Bucks +4.0 ( -110) ✅
Total: Over 218 ( -110) ✅
Props: Pat Connaughton Over 1.5 3-pointers (-120) ✅
Our picks went a perfect 4-for-4 in Game 5. We selected the Bucks to win on the money line and cover +4.0 as well as the game to go over the projected 218 point total. All three of those selections were winners and our props bet for Pat Connaughton to record -1.5 3-pointers was settled as a winner before the first quarter was even over.
Below, you can find more NBA betting predictions and analysis for Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
NBA Finals Game 6 Spread Prediction:
After a pair of close games, the Bucks are favored by a healthy five points at home in Game 6, which seems a bit high in this spot. Jrue Holiday has come up big on the defensive end in back-to-back games but Milwaukee didn’t look like a team ready to close out the series in Game 5. The Bucks nearly surrendered a late 10-point lead and missed free throws down the stretch almost cost them a chance to seal the victory. For the first time since the start of the series, the Suns will be the more desperate team on Tuesday. With Booker on fire and the Suns in a win-or-go-home game, it’s hard not to see this series going to Game 7. But even if Phoenix doesn’t win, there should be some value with the points in this spot. Take the Suns to cover the spread in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday evening.
NBA Finals Game 6 Money Line Prediction:
The odds are actually in Milwaukee’s favor and most of the NBA pundits are taking the Bucks in this game, which is exactly why we’re going the other way here. The winner of Game 5 has been crowned the NBA Champion 72.4% of the time (21-8). However, that number is actually lower than the overall postseason mark, which stands at 82.1% all-time for all playoff rounds. The Suns shot the ball well and didn’t turn the ball over last game but it didn’t translate to a victory. They failed to put away the Bucks early and were unable to complete a comeback of their own late in the fourth quarter but showed a different level of desperation down the stretch. Aside from Paul and Crowder, the Suns have a young team that is still learning how to close out games but I’m expecting them to show up with their season on the line in Game 6. Take the Suns to send this series back to Phoenix with a win at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday evening.
NBA Finals Game 6 Total Prediction:
Both teams were red-hot from beyond the 3-point line in Game 5 and conventional wisdom would tell us to look for some regression in this spot. Milwaukee knocked down 14 of its 28 3-point attempts on Saturday while the Suns were even better from deep, hitting 13 of their 19 shots from downtown. Antetokounmpo has also returned to his normal self from the free-throw line over the last two games. He’s shot just 8-for-19 from the charity stripe during that span (42.1 percent), which should leave some value on the under in this spot. Take Game 6 to stay under the projected total on Tuesday night.
NBA Finals Game 6 Player Props:
Bridges doesn’t get the credit that he deserves for the Suns’ success, especially on the defensive end of the floor but the 24-year-old has morphed into one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He’s taken on more responsibility defensively over the last three games as well and has averaged less than five field goal attempts per game during that span. He’s also recorded a block in each one of those contests and averaged nearly a block per game (0.9) during the regular season. With the Suns’ season on the line, it wouldn’t surprise me to see an all-out effort from him on the defensive end of the floor in this one. Take Mikal Bridges to record a block in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night.
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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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