After months of grinding through the regular season and navigating the playoff minefield, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns sit atop the pantheon to battle for ultimate supremacy of the NBA landscape. The Bucks were the third seed in the East while the Suns were the second seed in the West. The Bucks were 20-16 away from home during the regular season while the Suns had the best home record at 27-9. Both teams were top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency - Suns (4th OFF/9th DEF), Bucks (6th OFF/10th DEF). In two regular-season meetings, the Suns won at home 125-124 while being victorious in an overtime thriller in Milwaukee, 128-127. In both of those games, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Donte DiVincenzo played. DiVincenzo is out while Antetokounmpo is quesitionable for Game 1. As a result, DraftKings Sportsbook has the home Suns favored by six points with the O/U at 218.5.
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Jrue Holiday ($13,800 CP) - With Giannis off the court, Holiday sees a 5.9% usage bump. Khris Middleton ($15,600 CP) sees a 6.8% increase but he’s $1,800 more expensive. For much of this year, Holiday has been more of a back-seat driver and many wanted him to be more aggressive. When Giannis succumbed to injury, he had no choice but to step up, and step up he has. In the last two games of the Atlanta series, he played 42 minutes and attempted at least 20 shots in each. He grabbed rebounds and dished out nine and 13 assists while contributing the defensive stats. That all translated to 56 and 62.75 DKFP. The usage rate was 24.3% and 30.5%. He will have to continue being aggressive and there’s positive momentum with his game right now. During the season, Phoenix boosted the FPPM to point guards by 0.64% above the league average.
Cameron Johnson ($4,200 CP) - If you want to fit the top two players from each team, then Johnson allows you to do that. He missed some time due to an illness but he’s good to go for the Finals. Now, he will likely play only around 24 minutes but he will grab some rebounds and get some steals. His main value comes from three-pointers and he could get plenty of looks in this one. The Bucks protect the paint first and foremost then spread out to guard the perimeter. As a result, they were 27th in three-point attempts allowed. Johnson has averaged four three-pointers over the past five games and gone for at least 20 DKFP in three of those contests.
Bobby Portis ($6,800) - With Giannis out, Portis has received the start and played 32 and 36 minutes. He went for 43 and 26.25 DKFP in those games. He’s averaging 1.15 DKFP per minute, so somewhere in between those two performances is the likely outcome. The defense isn’t great which adds some playing time risk, but Budenholzer may have no choice as his offensive prowess will likely be needed. One positive going into this game is that the Suns have boosted the FPPM to power forwards by 6.68% above the league average.
Mikal Bridges ($6,000) - Bridges is a low-usage player but he can stuff the stat sheet from time to time. In these playoffs, he’s gone for at least 20 DKFP in six games with a 30.25 and 44.25 performance. He accesses ceiling games when he’s able to score and he could get plenty of attempts from downtown, as referenced in the Johnson section.
Chris Paul ($9,800). I’m trying to get Paul into all of my lineups. Prior to entering the health and safety protocols, Paul went for at least 50 DKFP in three games. When he returned, it took him a while to get his legs under him, as he shot under 30% in the first two games back. He did still contribute 43 and 33.5 DKFP, so the floor is high. In the closeout game against the Clippers, though, we saw the ceiling - 16-for-24 from the field, 7-for-8 from downtown, 41 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and three steals for 67.5 DKFP.
Deandre Ayton ($12,600 CP; $8,400) - I don’t particularly like this fade but I have to choose someone. In the two regular-season meetings, Ayton went for 25.25 and 42.25 DKFP. Brook Lopez ($7,400) does a good job protecting the paint and he draws opposing centers out of the paint on defense, which limits some of the defensive rebounding opportunities.
For full transparency, I’ve been absolutely horrible at predicting outcomes, so you may want to go Costanza on me. If that doesn’t work, then Costanza the Costanza.
The Suns were the best team at home all season and have been one of the most balanced teams in the NBA. Without Giannis in the mix for the Bucks, the firepower is lacking to dent the armor of the Suns' shield. Give me the Suns to take Game 1.
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