NBA DFS Showdown Preview: Suns vs. Bucks, Game 5
Published: Jul 17, 2021
Phoenix Suns-Milwaukee Bucks
Spread: PHX -4
The NBA Finals are deadlocked at the moment with both the Suns and the Bucks securing two wins each. The odds shift back in the Suns favor because home court has truly ruled the series. Last game was very competitive but late in the contest, just when it seemed like the Suns had a bit of a cushion, the Bucks struck back and took advantage of turnovers. Chris Paul committed five turnovers and no Suns player could really get any consistent offense going besides Devin Booker who netted 42 points. Deandre Ayton stayed out of foul trouble, but didn’t help on the offensive end. The Bucks had a 40-point scorer of their own in Khris Middleton and besides scoring 26 points and grabbing 14 boards, Giannis Antetokounmpo swatted away a shot late in the game to help the Bucks complete their comeback. With the series all tied up, Phoenix is going to have to show some kind of inside presence on offense. The Bucks have and they’ll continue to attack the paint more.
Giannis Antetokounmpo- The consistency continues with strong scoring and rebounding. Antetokounmpo is the prime CPT option. He remains safest of any player in this series and we’ve seen him grab no fewer than 12 rebounds in a game in this series. Antetokounmpo has grabbed steals in each of his last four games and blocked at least one shot in three of them. When the series hit Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo saw his assists rise and part of that is because other Bucks teammates are starting to attack more. We’ve seen Middleton focus more on his play inside the arc on offense and once Antetokounmpo draws the second defender part of the lane will be open for a cutter. Seeing Antetokounmpo play 43 minutes last game is also a strong indicator that his injury isn’t holding him back at all. Antetokounmpo has shot at least 54.5 percent from the floor in every game this series and he should take 19-22 shots tonight. He doesn’t look like he’s in pain when he jumps and hopefully he can fight inside and get to the free throw line more. The Suns would rather anyone else beat them up on offense rather than Antetokounmpo, so they will continue to try isolating him at the elbow.
Devin Booker- Booker has taken 25-plus shots in 2 of his last 3 contests and with Chris Paul potentially banged up and having trouble getting his offensive flow going, we can expect Booker’s shot volume to remain in that range heading into tonight. He shot over 60 percent from the field despite not hitting a single three-pointer. Both of these teams want to rely on their three-point shooting, but they are just starting to realize that both struggle to cover both the arc and perimeter simultaneously so one will be exposed meaning that the guards should frequently look to drive so the opposing defense doesn’t get set. Booker has scored 27 or more points in 3 of 4 games in this series and we should expect him to play 40 minutes tonight. Like Middleton, Booker has seen a lot of success right inside the arc and he’ll continue taking shots from the elbow. It makes a lot more sense to choose Antetokounmpo as your CPT at this point as Booker’s shooting has been all over the place and that does bring a little risk.
Khris Middleton- Middleton was also in consideration for a CPT nod, but can we really count on him to take 33 shots again? He hasn’t hit that number of field goals in many games and even when he scored 29 points a few games ago, he took 26 shots. Expect his shots to be more in that range tonight. Middleton has also grabbed multiple steals in five of his last seven outings. With what I was describing before about how more of the guards need to attack the lane more, Middleton has clearly seen the lane exposed and is starting to not heavily favor the arc and rather work his way inside for a closer higher-percentage shot. Middleton has size and a strong drive and he should continue trying to draw contact. Ayton will have to keep an eye on Antetokounmpo and unless Jae Crowder is set with his feet planted, it’ll continue to be difficult stopping Middleton once he gets a step in the lane. Middleton continues to grab six to seven rebounds per game in this series and he’s dished at least four dimes in ever game this series. Plus, he’s kept his turnovers down since the first game of the series.
Deandre Ayton- Ayton didn’t put up the offense we all hoped for, but the Suns have to feed him more tonight right? Plus, he proved that he can stay out of trouble unlike in the third game in the series. Ayton is coming off of a 17-rebound game and despite scoring just 6 points after having his worst shooting outing in 10 games, he still saved face by blocking 3 shots. Ayton has blocked multiple shots in three of his last five battles. He’s grabbed multiple steals and dished at least four dimes in two of his last three games as well. The Suns should focus on getting back to basics with both Paul and Ayton. They should start the game by deploying basic pick and rolls to see if Ayton can use his size to get to the basket and even draw contact. If Antetokounmpo stops him and he gets trapped he can always pass off, but, when Antetokounmpo is at the elbow, it should work more often than not because he doesn’t have as good of an angle to stop Ayton from driving without fouling him. Ayton needs to go up stronger as well with the ball. It was almost like he didn’t fully follow through on his shots and just flipped the ball up. The follow through will also send him to the charity stripe more. Ayton has barely been to the free-throw line throughout this series. He’s the Suns one true inside post threat and the Suns need to show a multi-faceted offense and a strong offensive game from Ayton will be critical in order for the Suns to take control of this series.
Chris Paul- As the tide has turned a bit in this series so has the confidence tide when it comes to Chris Paul. It’s hard to tell whether or not he’s just flat out exhausted, hurt, or if Jrue Holiday has clamped down on him enough defensively to limit his damage on offense. We’ve seen Paul’s production dip steadily throughout the series. He scored 53.5 DraftKings points to start the series and then last game that total dropped to 23. Paul isn’t taking as many shots and he’s turning the ball over a ton. Paul has committed 15 turnovers in his last 3 games. DFS players may shy away being that he hasn’t been as productive in his last two outings. Paul has grabbed four boards in all but one game in this series and he’s dished at least seven dimes in every game. Paul didn’t post a steal last game for the first time in this series and had his lowest scoring performance in a very long time. Paul brings certain intangibles that the Suns need to stay in this series even if he isn’t shooting as well. Paul does a good job of communicating and helping his teammates keep a level head even during the harder times on the court. He does bring some risk tonight especially because he’s been very carless with the ball since early on in the series.
Jrue Holiday- After having a breakout shooting performance in the third game of the finals, Holiday reverted back to the poor shooting under 35 percent that he has posted for most of the series. Holiday is still producing at a decent level because he’s grabbed five to seven rebounds and dished seven to nine dimes throughout the series. Holiday has also grabbed steals in each of his last three games. He’s using his size to grab long boards. Holiday has only had one game in the finals in which he exceeded his 17.6 season scoring average and while his poor shooting does bring risk tonight, he’s been consistently productive in enough other areas that if he can get his act together and hit a few more shots tonight, he’ll be in line to smash. Holiday hit the 20-shot mark for the 2nd time in his last 3 games and he didn’t hit a single three-ball last game. Holiday needs to be told that he can use his strong drive to take Suns defenders such as Mikal Bridges out of position. Holiday can’t just rely on shooting three-pointers tonight and he’ll need to utilize his drive-game some more. The Bucks need him for perimeter defense and no matter how poorly he shoots, he’ll still play 40 minutes.
Jae Crowder- Crowder has seen his production increase for the most part throughout this series. He’s scored in double figures and pulled down at least six rebounds in each of his last three games. He did produce a double-double in the second game of this series and then grabbed three blocks and three steals last game. Lock him in for at least 35 minutes tonight unless he doesn’t hit a shot. He’s another player who earns his minutes from his defense. Crowder took a series-high 10 shots last game. Expect Crowder to take seven to 10 shots this evening. Crowder has blocked shots in three of four games this series and he mainly is utilized as a bailout option when it comes to his offense. He’ll see a good amount of open three-pointers and despite him not regularly hitting double-digits when it comes to shot totals, he gets a lot of high-percentage looks with hardly any hands in his face. Crowder went to the free throw line a few times last game and he’s not afraid to get physical in the post on either side and he can help Ayton out by keeping plays alive once the shot goes up. Crowder should continue crashing the boards more.
Pat Connaughton- For the second time in his last three games Connaughton received nine field goal attempts and he continues to see 30-plus minutes off the bench. Brook Lopez has lost minutes this series as the Bucks have opted to put Antetokounmpo in the middle a bit more and that’s given Connaughton even more security indirectly. He’s been able to get shots from beyond the arc, but we’ve seen Connaughton get a bit more aggressive stepping into the lane once the shot goes up. Connaughton has grabbed seven or more boards in two of his last three games. The minutes floor remains to be safe and he’s relied on more than any other player on the Bucks bench and he’s scored over 24 DK points in 2 of his last 3 battles. Expect him to take around seven to eight shots tonight.
Cameron Johnson- While Johnson has scored in double figures in three out of four games in this series, he wasn’t able to grab another 10 shots last game and Johnson is doing what is asked of him and he’s played 29 or more minutes in his last 2 contests, but if he’s not grabbing boards, his production remains limited because he doesn’t always get a lot of shots. He’s shot 50 percent or better from the floor in 3 of 4 and grabbed at least 3 boards during that span. Johnson has blocked shots in both of his last two games and he is good at running the floor, but he’s mainly utilized as a bailout option. We have seen Johnson take a few shots from right outside the paint, closer to the basket, but it’s hard to be confident that he’ll get more than six to seven shots tonight. Johnson remains a true dart throw, but the minutes he has received over his last two games is very encouraging and he’s worth it because of the showdown factor.