Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Finals will take place Thursday Night, as either the Milwaukee Bucks will even the series or the Phoenix Suns will take a 2-0 lead. 

Despite the very surprising and productive return of Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to action, Mike Budenholzer’s team could not contain the Suns rapid pace and dynamic backcourt play in the 118-105 Phoenix Game 1 win Tuesday night. 

Chris Paul recovered from a scoreless first quarter to finish with 32 points and keep himself as the frontrunner for Finals MVP, while Devin Booker provided 27 points despite a rough shooting game from outside (1 for 8 from three). 

Antetokounmpo only took 11 shots but tallied 20 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, two steals and one spectacular chase down block on Mikal Bridges. Khris Middleton continued to be the Bucks main option offensively despite Giannis' return, but he produced an inefficient 29 points on 26 shots. 

A huge key in the Suns’ fourth straight Game 1 win these NBA Playoffs was the contrast in performance from both teams’ third best player. Deandre Ayton added to his fabulous postseason with 22 points and 19 rebounds. Jrue Holiday, on the other hand, reverted back to his poor shooting form with just 10 points off 4 for 14 shooting and 0 for 4 from three. The Bucks point guard did provide 9 assists and 7 rebounds, but will need to greatly assert his preference on both ends of the court for Milwaukee to not repeat a defeat. 

The only major negative for the Suns from Game 1 was Dario Saric being lost for the rest of the series (and significantly longer) with a torn ACL. Monty Williams’ two Camerons, Payne and Johnson, made sure Saric going down in quarter one didn’t hurt Phoenix's bench production with both scoring 20 points. 

Besides Giannis’ encouraging return, five threes combined from Bryn Forbes, Pat Connaughton and Jeff Teague plus a fourth quarter comeback to get the deficit to single digits gave Milwaukee some positives to build on for Game 2. But they must significantly reduce Paul and Booker being allowed Pick and Roll mismatches to drive past or space manipulate on bigs Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis. It is imperative for Budenholzer to have Holiday stay on Paul, Middleton to monitor Booker and avoid the 43 switches his defense gave the Suns in Game 1. 

Over/Under Total Score 219.5 (-110) - Take The Over 

Antetokounmpo’s unexpected return helped Milwaukee stay on the effective points in the paint approach vs the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5 and 6 of the East Finals. That allowed for the total score to hit the Over in Game 1 despite poor outside shooting from Holiday, Booker and Jae Crowder. Their three point shooting can only go up in Game 2 and keep the Suns offense at the same level just in case CP3 isn’t near his Game 1 points total. 

Over/Under - Player Point Totals

Devin Booker Over 28.5 (+100)

Deandre Ayton Over 16.5, (+100)

Jae Crowder Over 10.5, (+100)

A nice parlay or individual preference to take the Over on one of these three Suns points totals is really worth it. 

A free throw was the only scoring Crowder produced on Tuesday, while Booker still got 27 points off a 10 for 10 flawless effort at the charity stripe. Just a decent stretch of improved shooting in Game 2 make those totals very attainable to win equal money. 

The same can be said of Ayton, who was brilliant in Game 1 with being 5.5 points over the Betway Game 2 line set for him. Expect him to continue his strong play and get the over once more. 

Final Score Prediction: Bucks 111, Suns 120

Milwaukee needs to get a better game, points and defensive wise, from Holiday, an All-Star max player and Olympian counted on to match or best Paul. And I predict we will see improvements in both areas from the former UCLA point guard. 

But the Suns continue to showcase the balance and surgical execution of a champion. They were clearly the better team in Game 1 despite Booker and Crowder’s cold Tuesday night from outside. And they will take a 2-0 series lead to Milwaukee with another energetic performance in front of their home fans.