This year’s NBA Finals should be an exciting one, although it includes a matchup no one was expecting. Tonight, the Phoenix Suns are hosting their first NBA Finals game since 1993 against the Milwaukee Bucks, who won their only NBA Finals appearance back in 1971. This is a sentence I would never have expected to write when the season started back in December, but here we are.
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo be ready for Game 1?
The Bucks beat the Atlanta Hawks 4 games to 2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. In order to do so, they had to win the final two games of the series without the former two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He has been out since Game 4 against the Hawks after landing awkwardly and being diagnosed with a hyperextension of the left knee. However, the Bucks received some good news today in that his status for game 1 has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable, meaning he has a 50% chance to play tonight. What does this mean for the Bucks? Looking back at their Game 5 win against the Hawks, which was their first game without Giannis, the Bucks had four players in double figures and had 28 assists. This required a total team effort and the Bucks were up to the task. After not playing in the series against the Brooklyn Nets, Bobby Portis was a true X-Factor. He scored 22 points and pulled down 8 rebounds to beat the Hawks. Brook Lopez is also another player to keep an eye out for, since he is also an X-Factor for the Milwaukee Bucks and will be part of the key to stopping the Suns’ first overall draft pick in 2018, center Deandre Ayton.
How did the Phoenix Suns get here?
After an 8-0 Orlando bubble appearance in 2020, the Suns acquired Chris Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder and finished second in the competitive Western Conference. They started their playoff run by knocking out Lebron and the Lakers and then sweeping the MVP of the League, Nikola Jokic, and the Denver Nuggets in Round 2. After going to battle and defeating the Los Angeles Clippers, the Phoenix Suns are now in the NBA Finals, four games away from winning their first championship in franchise history. With Devin Booker averaging 27 points in these playoffs and the resurgence of Chris Paul, who averages 18.1 points and 8.7 assists, the Suns are in a great position to win.
How do the Bucks and Suns matchup?
The key matchups in this series will be the battle of the point guards and the shooting guards, Jrue Holiday versus Chris Paul and Khris Middleton versus Devin Booker. Jrue Holiday is an elite defender and scorer, but these skills will be put to the test as he goes up against Chris Paul who always finds a way to get to his favorite spots on the court. If Jrue Holiday can contain Chris Paul, the Bucks are in great position. Even if that is accomplished, it does not account for Devin Booker, who is a pure scorer and always finds a way to score. With Giannis questionable for Game 1 and his status up in the air for the rest of the series, Khris Middleton will need to have a great start for the Bucks to steal Game 1 on the road.
So, who will win the 2021 NBA Finals?
Putting everything into account and studying what strengths and weaknesses each team presents…my prediction is that the Milwaukee Bucks will win the 2021 NBA Finals in six games.