The 2021 NBA finals are tied at 2-2 after the Bucks won their second straight game on Thursday to storm back into the series.
This matchup now returns to Phoenix, where the Suns have been dominant all season. Home court advantage has been a decisive factor in this series: will that trend continue when the series resumes on Saturday in game 5?
Bookmakers have favored the home team in each game this series, and they continue to do so here. The Suns are priced as the likely winners and enter as 3.5 point favorites against the spread.
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Bucks v Suns - What happened in game 4?
The Bucks and Suns gave NBA basketball fans a classic in game 4, with a tight game ending 109-103 to Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton was as clutch as he’s ever been, scoring 40 points on 15-for-33 shooting. Giannis Antetokounmpo was quieter offensively, with 26 points, but got 14 boards, 8 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks - including a game-defining one with 1.15 left that would have tied the game.
Jrue Holiday shot horrendously, but don’t let that color your perception: his relentless defending forced Suns star Chris Paul into 5 turnovers and got the Bucks playing the transition basketball they excel at.
Paul averaged 1.6 turnovers per game before this series began but has had 15 in the last 3 games of this series. He seemed rattled offensively, too, getting just 10 points on the night and leaving the offensive load to the on-fire Devin Booker, who had 42 on 17-for-28 shooting.
Despite an off-color CP3, Phoenix were close to clinching this one though. They led the game with 3.15 on the clock and still had it tied with 1.30 to play. Then it all fell apart.
Suns and shots, Bucks and boards
Game 4 also confirmed a trend we’ve seen throughout the series: Phoenix shoots the basketball better than Milwaukee, but the Bucks are totally dominant in the paint.
Phoenix shot 51.3% from the field and 30.4% from downtown - and that’s despite the poor 5-for-13 night CP3 had. Booker tried to carry this team to victory, but he just found too little support from his teammates on the night.
Milwaukee, on the other hand, outrebounded their rivals 48-40 on the night and absolutely annihilated them on the offensive boards, 17-5, despite their starting center Brook Lopez getting just 1 rebound in 19 minutes of playing time.
That dominance under the basket proved crucial, as it freed up Middleton to take his shots from the perimeter. If Middleton can keep up that form - and that’s a big if, given his inconsistency - Phoenix will find it tough to keep Milwaukee at bay.
Betting on Bucks @ Suns game 5
Each game in the series has gone to the home team, and bookmakers are betting on the same happening in game 5.
Phoenix are priced as -180 favorites on the Moneyline. That leaves Milwaukee at +135. Sportsbooks have narrowed the spread for game 5 and have the Suns as favourites there, with both teams priced at -110 with the spread set at 3.5 points.
The Suns have an elite home court record and are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight home games. They have an even better record - 5-0 - against the spread in their last five home games against the Bucks. That suggests you should lay the points.
Game 4 was the first in the series to not hit the over and the total has been set a bit lower, at 218, for game 5. But these are two high-scoring teams, playing the game of their lives: expect both teams to get buckets.
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