After one of the wildest postseasons in recent memory, it all comes down to this. The 2021 NBA Finals tip off tonight with Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. Injuries remain a storyline, as they have for many teams throughout the playoffs. While it does not look like the Bucks will have Giannis Antetokounmpo for tonight’s game, there are still plenty of NBA player props on the board. Let’s dive into some NBA basketball betting tips, odds and potential picks for Game 1, including a betting prediction for Suns center Deandre Ayton.
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The Bucks could not have made it to the NBA Finals without a timely assist from Brook Lopez. Lopez exploded for 33 points in Game 5 to help Milwaukee get past the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Lopez could very well provide a scoring lift again tonight. His NBA player props total for rebounds, however, is another story.
Even though he played roughly 10 more minutes than he was getting most nights prior to Antetokounmpo’s injury, Lopez did not increase his rebounds all that much. He totaled seven and six boards in Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, respectively. That Game 5 total marks one of just two games in the last nine in which Lopez has gone over 6.5 rebounds. The Suns quietly were one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams this season. That said, players like Bobby Portis, P.J. Tucker and even Jrue Holiday stand out as better bets than Lopez to exceed their NBA player props rebound totals. Plus-money odds on the under only solidify the play.
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Once upon a time, many fans and analysts were doubting whether Deandre Ayton would live up to the No. 1 overall draft pick that the Suns spent on him. Ayton has proved many a doubter wrong throughout the playoffs, the first postseason of his young career. One need not look any further back than his last 10 games. Ayton has scored in double figures in each one and also hauled in double-digit boards on seven occasions. He has been a double-double machine going all the way back to the first round.
The Awesemo NBA Player Props Tool loves the betting odds and value on Ayton to go over 11.5 rebounds in Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight. Yes, the total is high, but Ayton has exceeded it three times in the last five games. Add one additional rebound to his Western Conference Finals Game 5 line, and that would have been four. With the Bucks ranking at or near the top of the NBA in team rebounding throughout the season, it will be critical for Ayton to get after it on the glass tonight. With Antetokounmpo not expected to be available, that will be one fewer quality rebounder for Ayton to contend with. The playoff stage has not been too big Ayton, so no reason to go against him now.
After filling in admirably for Chris Paul in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, Cameron Payne unsurprisingly went back to his reduced minutes off the bench. He still played quite well for the remainder of the series. His Game 6 performance was particularly notable, as he dished a whopping seven assists in just 16 minutes of action. Payne averaged 3.6 assists per game during the regular season while playing just 18.0 minutes per game. Add in the fact that benches tend to be longer early on in a series, and Payne could very well play more minutes than expected in Game 1 of the Finals tonight. Look to grab the even-money odds on Payne to exceed 3.5 assists.
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