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Bucks-Suns: Your Underinformed 2021 NBA Finals Preview

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It’s no secret that I’m not a particularly close follower of the NBA. I have a decent general understanding of the state of the league just by dint of being a general sports fan, but as far as the vagaries and granular details? Not so much.

However, it’s also no secret that I’ve never let my relative ignorance with regard to a sports-related subject stop me from voicing my opinion.

And so here we are, with my standard underinformed preview of the NBA Finals.

This year’s championship tilt pits the Eastern Conference-winning Milwaukee Bucks against the Phoenix Suns, victors in the Western Conference. It’s a best-of-seven series that will, regardless of which team triumphs, have an historic impact.

If the Bucks win, it will mark the first title for Milwaukee since 1971, ending the league’s fifth-longest championship drought. Two spots higher on that drought list, we find the Suns, a franchise that came into existence in 1968 and has never won an NBA title. Either way, we’re getting a champion we haven’t seen in over half a century. More than that, neither of these teams have even made the Finals in a long time. We haven’t seen Phoenix here since 1993. And Milwaukee? Try 1974. Heck, the truth is that no player on either roster has ever won a championship. Zero. Like I said – historic.

So who’s going to win?

Let’s start with the superstars. Phoenix has Chris Paul, who is making his first-ever trip to the Finals despite a storied career that has left him as arguably one of the best players ever to play the point guard position. He’s 36 and just a couple of years removed from being viewed as little more than an albatross contract, and yet – here we are. Despite a wealth of accolades – All-Star nods and All-NBA picks and All-Defensive Team selections – he’s always labored under the shadow of that one huge hole in his resume – no rings. This might be his last, best shot to get one, so expect him to be going even harder than usual.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee has Giannis Antetokounmpo – the Greek Freak – holding down the center of the court for them. At least, they do if he’s healthy. Giannis hyperextended his right knee during the conference finals; it looked disastrous, but he apparently avoided serious injury. He’s day-to-day, though there are rumors that he could have played in a Game 7 had there been one. If he’s in, it’s a game changer – obviously, having your two-time league MVP suited up and on the court will make a world of difference. Few players can exert control over all aspects of the game quite like Giannis; his health will be a major storyline.

Of course, there are far more players on the court than just these two. You’ve got Phoenix’s Devin Booker, a scoring machine who can absolutely light it up when he’s hot. And then there’s Khris Middleton on the Bucks, a forward who has turned himself into one of the league’s better two-way players. Young Suns center Deandre Ayton has spent this season growing into the guy Phoenix thought he’d be when they selected him first overall, while Bucks guard Jrue Holliday is an absolute defensive force on the perimeter.

It’s safe to say that this is not the Finals matchup most people expected at the start of the year. But all along the way, these two squads have taken down their opponents and pushed their way to the top of the heap. A long drought is going to end – it just remains to be seen which one.

So who am I picking? Here’s where I’m at. I think that Giannis is the best player on either team, the purest basketball force of the bunch. However, he’s dinged up; even if he plays, he’s likely not going to be at 100%. And while guys like Middleton, Holliday and Brook Lopez can pick up some of the slack, I’m not sure they can do enough. Chris Paul has been playing like a man possessed this postseason; he sees his shot at that long-elusive title and looks ready to do whatever it takes to get it. I expect Booker to help shoulder the scoring load and Ayton to continue his playoff coming-out party. It’s going to be a tightly-contested series – one that may well go the full seven games – but in the end, I think the Suns will rise and win the franchise’s first-ever NBA title.

Prediction: Suns in seven.

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 July 2021 18:58

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