NBA Finals predictions - First basket best bet for Suns vs. Bucks Game 6: Too good to be Jrue

Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday (21) shoots against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) during the first half in game one of the 2021 NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena
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Andrew Ortenberg

NBA

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I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

The NBA Finals are back, and the Milwaukee Bucks are riding high following their Game 5 win over the Phoenix Suns. Milwaukee can now win a championship with another victory in Game 6 on Tuesday night. Will the Suns muster an all-out effort with their backs up against the wall, or will Giannis Antetokounmpo keep it rolling?

Here at Pickswise we have tons of great content for the finals, including same game parlays and picks on the side and total for every matchup. But right now we’re going to talk about one of my favorite props: first-basket bets. Let’s dive into my best such bet for Tuesday, where we’re once again counting on Jrue Holiday. We also have a longer-odds play at the end.

Suns vs. Bucks first basket best bet: Jrue Holiday +500

It’s not really a question as to who is going to take the first shot. The Bucks and Suns have now played seven times this season, and Milwaukee has started with the ball in six of those games. For whatever reason, Brook Lopez is aggressively going all-out for these jump balls. Deandre Ayton is content to let him have them.

As such, I think we’ve got to look at a Bucks player first. Of those, Holiday makes the most sense. I’ve had a ton of success betting him on these props, including when I cashed while picking him in Game 6 of their series against the Hawks. I also picked him in Game 2 of this series, and I was correct about him taking the first shot although unfortunately he missed it.

Once again going back to the well, I picked Holiday again the last time I wrote this column for Game 4, and he took their second shot. Process over results. Everything about the process indicates he’s once again the smart play here.

Holiday once again hit the first basket in Game 5, nailing a 19-foot jump shot to open things up. He was hot overall, making 12 of 20 shots and scoring 27 points. But he’s almost always particularly aggressive and active early in games. Holiday shooting early has been a consistent theme in the playoffs. In Game 6 of that Hawks series, he hit the first field goal, and in Game 5 he took three of the Bucks’ first four shots. He also took the team’s first shot, and later made the team’s first basket, in Game 4 of that Atlanta series. In Game 3 he again made the team’s first bucket, and in Game 2 he attempted the first shot.

In a solid majority of their recent playoff games, he’s either taken the team’s first shot or made the first bucket. There’s just no reason for Antetokuonmpo (+380) to have lower odds than him at this point.

Be sure to check out our full game preview for Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks

First basket value play: Devin Booker +650

Again, I don’t think the Suns are going to start with the ball here. But if you think Ayton is going to win the tip like he did in Game 4 — or if you think the Bucks will just start cold — Booker should be the play. Ayton was getting the first look often for a while, but that’s changed recently. In each of the past two games, Booker has taken Phoenix’s first shot. He’s likely heard all the talk since Game 5 about how he froze on the final possession with the game on the line, and will look to set the tone and redeem himself right away. Booker has taken a whopping 61 shots over the past two games. His volume should remain off the charts in this elimination game.

Don’t forget to read our same game parlay for Game 6 of Suns vs. Bucks (+997 odds!)

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Make sure to also check out our NBA parlays and NBA prop bets tabs for more expert picks.

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