Chris Paul, Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns are four wins away from their first NBA championship. The best — and, more importantly, the healthiest — team in the league disposed of the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday night, with Paul’s 41 points leading the way in a 130-103 Game 6 victory.
It’s the Suns’ first championship appearance since 1993 and oddsmakers have set them as the prohibitive favorites among the three remaining teams: Phoenix’s -210 title odds dwarf both the Bucks’ +310 odds and the Hawks’ +550 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.
While the Suns would be favored in both matchups, Arizona sports bettors know that each would present unique challenges that come with the territory of trying to win a championship.
Arizona sports betting plans to be up and running on Sept. 9, the day the NFL kicks off its 2021 season with the Dallas Cowboys at the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For AZ NFL betting, the Arizona Cardinals open the 2021 season against the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sept. 12.
Bucks Strong, With Or Without Giannis
Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a knee injury during the Bucks’ Game 4 loss to the Hawks, and while he reportedly avoided any structural damage, his status for the rest of the playoffs is in doubt.
If Antetokounmpo can’t play, Milwaukee will lean heavily on fellow All-Star Khris Middleton, who is averaging 22.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in the postseason.
Increased roles from Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez would also be in play for Coach Mike Budenholzer, while a bench that has largely disappointed in the postseason would need to step up.
The Suns won both regular season matchups against the Bucks, and those wins came in games that Antetokounmpo scored 47 and 33 points, respectively. Milwaukee’s strategy would be to match up Holiday on Paul, Middleton on Booker, and Lopez on Deandre Ayton, hope they win those individual battles, and force Phoenix’s supporting cast to beat them.
Without Antetokounmpo, though, it might be a tough decision to take the Bucks if you’re betting on the NBA.
Hawks Look Like A Team Of Destiny
The Hawks were a coin flip to get out of the first round against the Knicks before knocking them off in five games. Then they were supposed to fall to the top-seeded Sixers before finishing them off in six games.
They’ve played the Bucks well thus far and have gone from a fun postseason story to legitimate title contender.
The bone bruise in Trae Young’s right ankle shouldn’t keep him out much longer, and the assumption is he would be ready to play in the Finals starting on July 8 — if Atlanta can get there. That’s obviously good news for the Hawks, who are a whopping 12.5 points per 100 possessions better on offense with Young on the floor.
The recipe for the Suns would be to slow down Young when the Hawks have the ball and to attack him on offense.
Atlanta is getting plenty of help from its supporting cast in John Collins and Clint Capela, which would either force Phoenix to go bigger than it has in the postseason to date or to try to win with a small-ball lineup that has been lethal all season.
Bet on the latter happening, with Atlanta the likely answer to which team would blink first and stray from their traditional approach.
Suns Should Feel Good Either Way
The Suns are the favorites for a reason. They’re fully healthy, will have homecourt advantage either way, and will have a significant rest advantage as well.
Those factors mean plenty this late in the season, giving the Suns an advantage in just about every category whether they square off against a Giannis-less Bucks team or an overachieving Hawks team.