MILWAUKEE — The Bucks are favored to close out the NBA Finals at home on Tuesday night, but bettors expect the Phoenix Suns to send the series back to Arizona for a decisive Game 7.
The Bucks were 26-10 at home during the regular season and are 4.5-point favorites by DraftKings and 5.0-point favorites by PointsBet ahead of Game 6. They have erased a 2-0 series deficit by winning the past three games.
However, the past two wins were in dramatic fashion, and Phoenix had the best regular-season road record in the NBA at 24-12.
The Suns are being backed by 62 percent of the spread-line bets and 61 percent of the money at DraftKings, with action even more one-sided at 60 percent and 76 percent, respectively, at PointsBet.
Phoenix’s +165 moneyline at DraftKings has drawn 65 percent of the bets and money, while the Suns’ 170 moneyline at PointsBet is being backed by 57 percent of the bets and 61 percent of the money.
“You have to embrace it,” Suns forward Jae Crowder said Monday. “You have to embrace where you are in the series and from there you have to focus and channel your emotions and energy towards the next game, and that’s tomorrow night. We just know it’s going to be a dogfight. … It’s win or go home. The words speak for (themselves).”
The Suns are focused on patching up a defense that allowed a pair of 40-point games to Giannis Antetokounmpo, another to Khris Middleton and a memorable Game 5 effort from Jrue Holiday.
“Our guys have always wanted it, but I think when you’re in these moments like this, this is different,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “This is different than the first time against the Lakers, where it was just 2-1. This is it. I think we’re just going to see more, like we have throughout the playoffs.”
While the Bucks have shared the leading role to win three straight in the series, the Suns continue to lean heavily on Devin Booker. He has 82 of the team’s 222 points in the past two games — a pair of 40-point efforts, both in losses. Williams allowed that Booker wants to “win the moment” but the Suns need more of the team attack to dismantle Milwaukee’s defense.
The Bucks continued to dominate inside even without Antetokounmpo carrying the scoring load and ran out for 21 fast-break points in Game 5. Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer credits the open-floor decision-making with unifying his group and promoting the level of unselfishness the Bucks have showcased the past two games.
Decisions are not coming as easily or naturally for Chris Paul, the Suns point guard who is averaging 3.6 turnovers per game in the series as the focus of the Bucks’ full-court pressure. The idea, Holiday said, is to make Paul work on every dribble and hope that pays off with missed shots or rushed decisions in the fourth quarter.
The Over/Under for Game 6 is 222.0 points at both sportsbooks. The Over is being supported by 57 percent of the bets at DraftKings while the money bet on the prop market has been split. The Over has been backed by 53 percent of the bets at PointsBet but the Under has drawn 70 percent of the money.
PointsBet reported the Suns at +165 is the book’s biggest liability ahead of Game 6. Milwaukee is now responsible for 58 percent of the series bets, opening at +145 to win the title and seeing those odds shorten to -425 with a 3-2 lead.
Paul remains the heaviest-backed player to win NBA Finals MVP honors at PointsBet, where 30.5 percent of the MVP bets and 55.8 percent of the money has been placed on him. Booker is next at 26.4 and 29.2 percent, respectively, while Antetokounmpo has been backed by 16.7 percent of the bets and 8.6 percent of the handle.