Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
After a shortened regular season the NBA Finals have rolled around again, with Phoenix Suns emerging from the Western Conference and Milwaukee Bucks taking the title in the East.
The Suns have arguably been the surprise package this year and the arrival of veteran Chris Paul prior to the start of the campaign has proven to be an inspired move.
Widely regarded as one of the great point guards of the modern era, ‘CP3’ will be competing in the Finals series for the first time in his career at the age of 36.
Milwaukee have dominated the Eastern Conference in recent years and finished with the best regular season record in the NBA in each of the last two seasons, before coming in third this term.
Phoenix have home court advantage for the series, with Game 1 due to take place at the Phoenix Suns Arena on Tuesday (2am Wednesday BST).
NBA Series Final predictions & betting tips
Suns advantages can’t be ignored
Both teams have had to battle through injuries to reach the showpiece, but Phoenix have as close to a clean bill of health as possible ahead of the Finals series and the Bucks have some huge issues.
Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a hyperextension of his left knee in Game 4 of the Conference Finals series against Atlanta Hawks and has been absent since. Milwaukee did win the following two games to wrap up a 4-2 series win but his probable absence, for the first few games at least, is a huge blow nonetheless for the Bucks.
Guard Donte DiVincenzo was ruled out for the season with an ankle injury during the first round series with Miami Heat. That means the Bucks will be without two regular starters for the opener unless Antetokounmpo, rated as ‘day-to-day’ by coach Mike Budenhozer, makes a miraculous recovery.
The Suns, who won both meetings between the two teams in the regular season, have also had a few days extra rest after completing their series with the Clippers in six games last week. The turnaround for Milwaukee is a lot tougher after they finished up against Atlanta over the weekend.
The Suns are justifiably favourites at 20/37 with bet365 to emerge as series winners and this could well be their year.
Milwaukee will make it competitive
The Bucks have shown resilience throughout the playoffs and managed to overcome the heavily-fancied Brooklyn Nets in seven games in the Conference semifinals. They then outlasted Atlanta despite Antetokounmpo’s absence for the final two games and they can give a good account of themselves even if they do fall short.
Phoenix needed six games to overcome both the Lakers and Clippers of LA in the earlier rounds and it might be a similar scenario in the Finals, with a Suns 4-2 series win looking a strong option at 17/4 with bet365.
CP3 can cement legacy with MVP award
Chris Paul will put himself firmly among the greats if he manages to land his first Championship with the Suns and he can take the Finals MVP award too.
After missing the first two games of the previous series with the Clippers, Paul led the Suns in assists in each of the next four games and also led the scoring in the decisive sixth game.
Fellow guard Devin Booker clearly has the quality to take the MVP honour and has put in some huge performances during the postseason in terms of scoring but Paul has the stronger overall game and that’s why we’re leaning towards the experienced ‘CP3’ at 17/10 with bet365.
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