NBA

NBA Finals Game 1 Betting Guide, Sponsored by Taco Bell

Will the Bucks keep Game 1 close, or will the Suns run away with the opener?

Betting on the NBA can get a little overwhelming throughout the season because there are games every day, and there's just a lot to track throughout the season and entering every night -- spreads, over/unders, injuries, and so on.

But you can rely on numberFire to help. We have a detailed betting algorithm that projects out games to see how often certain betting lines hit, and our oddsFire section of the site allows you to track movement in those lines and see where the action is coming from on particular games.

Where do our algorithm, our power rankings, and the betting trends identify value in tonight's games? (All odds from FanDuel Sportsbook.)

Milwaukee Bucks (+210) at Phoenix Suns (-255)

Spread: Phoenix Suns -6.5
Total: 219.0

Before we even dig into this game, you should know that FanDuel is teaming up with Taco Bell for an exciting NBA Finals Comeback bonus opportunity.

All you have to do is place a $25-plus pre-live moneyline wager on either team, and if the team you bet on overcomes a halftime deficit to win, you will receive a $10 bonus in FanDuel site credit.

For more information on the promotion, check out FanDuel Sportsbook.

So, because of the emphasis on the moneyline with the Taco Bell bonus, I'll start there.

We see the Suns, with their -255 moneyline, rating out as around 71.8% likely to win based on the bookmaker line.

numberFire's model sees that number a lot lower at 61.7%, which makes the Milwaukee Bucks' moneyline (+210) a tepid one-star recommendation out of five, according to our algorithm.

However, the public is hammering the Suns' moneyline, and we're seeing north of 80% of the betting tickets and money coming in on the Suns to get the Game 1 win while Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as doubtful tonight.

Notably, according to PBPStats, the Bucks have actually held a 2.9 net rating over 954 minutes without Antetokounmpo on the floor since the start of April. This compares to a 6.0 net rating for the Suns in games with both Chris Paul and Devin Booker, by comparison.

And in that sample for the Suns, we see a really slow pace of just 96.0 possessions per 48 minutes, which could allow the Bucks to linger.

In total, using these relevant samples for each side, my model gives the Suns a 59.7% chance to win, in line with what ESPN's Basketball Power Index is seeing (56.8%).

I think this plays into the Suns' moneyline. Even though we'll be losing some expected value at -255, we could actually see the Bucks keep it close and hold a halftime lead, yet the evidence of a Bucks upset isn't strong enough.

Unsurprisingly, our model does like the Bucks +6.5 as a two-star recommendation. That is coming with a 60.6% likelihood and an expected return of 15.8%.

My model sees Milwaukee covering around two-thirds of the time, as well. This does go against the betting public, but the public is likely experiencing an overreaction to Antetokounmpo's doubtful status. The data shows that Milwaukee can still play well without him.

And as for the over/under, the public is -- as usual -- heavy on the over (77% of the tickets and 83% of the money are on the over).

Meanwhile, so is numberFire's model, which views Game 1 to be 63.6% likely to get to 220 points or more, which makes it a three-star recommendation out of five.

My model also likes the over for tonight, using those samples cited earlier. Of note, the two prior meetings in this regular season series had over/unders of 229.0 and 232.0, and the corresponding point totals in those games were 249 and 255, respectively.

So it's looking like the Suns moneyline and the over are the standout plays for tonight, and it's quite possible we can throw in the Bucks to cover, as well -- if we're trusting the data that Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez have helped carve out without Giannis.