What to know about Bucks vs Suns
If their two regular-season matchups are any indication of how the 2021 NBA Finals will play out, the Bucks and Suns are about to give basketball fans one of the most entertaining championship series of all time.
Phoenix won both games against Milwaukee by two points combined, including a 128-127 overtime thriller in April. Yes, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday missed one of those contests, and both teams’ rotations will look very different this time. Still, the Bucks and Suns brought incredible intensity to the court during the regular season, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t do it again, especially considering the stakes for each side.
The Suns reached the NBA Finals for the first time since 1993 after beating the Lakers, Nuggets and Clippers. The Bucks secured their first place in the NBA Finals since 1974 after eliminating the Heat, Nets and Hawks. Phoenix and Milwaukee are positioned to be contenders in the future, but these franchises understand how rare it is to have a chance to win the title. If the 2021 NBA playoffs have taught us anything, it’s how quickly an unexpected injury can wipe out championship dreams.
How will the last series of what has been a crazy postseason unfold? Let’s analyze it …
The key showdown
Jrue Holiday vs. Chris Paul
How many problems can Holiday cause for his main assignment? Well, before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, Hawks coach Nate McMillan said he would allow Lou Williams (starting in place of Trae Young), Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic to decide which player would carry the ball to the floor depending on who. Holidays was not defending.
This is what happens when you get too careless with your dribbling against a fully defensive first-team member.
But when it comes to the Hawks’ backcourt, none of those guys is “The God of the Point.” In 14 playoff games, Paul has added 122 assists compared to just 22 turnovers. The Suns point guard is coming off a series-assured performance in which he posted an absurd line of 41 points (16 of 24 shots), eight assists, four rebounds, three steals and zero turnovers. The future Hall of Famer is playing the best basketball of his career.
Aside from being confident in himself simply because he’s CP3, Paul also has to feel good about how he’s performed against Holiday before. NBA.com matchup data (admittedly flawed) for the past four seasons shows Paul has handled the pressure from Holiday well.
Stopping any star is more than a one-man job, of course. Paul is a master at navigating the pick-and-roll and forcing big rivals into awkward places.
Check out what happens in the play below when Holiday gets stuck on a Deandre Ayton screen, leaving Brook Lopez to deal with Paul. No possibility.
And this time, when Lopez agrees to contest the long-range jump shot, Paul waits until Ayton rolls to the rim and finds him for an easy bucket.
It’s worth noting that Lopez was more aggressive in Milwaukee’s abandonment scheme after Young exploded for 48 points in Game 1. Perhaps Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer will pressure Lopez to face Paul at level. screen or even change under certain circumstances. .
But when it comes to stopping Paul, the most critical work begins at the point of attack with Holiday.
The X factor
How much will Giannis Antetokounmpo play?
As has been the case throughout the postseason, health could play a big role in the outcome of the series.
Antetokounmpo suffered a hyperextension of his left knee after a terrifying fall in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The two-time NBA MVP was listed as doubtful before Games 5 and 6 before finally being ruled out. The Bucks managed to win those games, but we don’t have to. go to the full Ewing theory here and come up with a topic for discussion. Milwaukee is much better with Antetokounmpo, particularly on the defensive end and on the boards.
|Bucks in the 2021 playoffs||Out of rating||Def rating||Net rating||Def reb%|
|Antetokounmpo on the court||109.8||101.8||8.0||79.6|
|Antetokounmpo off the pitch||108.2||107.1||1.1||69.3|
Will Antetokounmpo be available for the start of the NBA Finals? Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on Friday that there was a “belief” that Antetokounmpo would have been cleared to play in Game 7 if the Hawks had won Game 6. With an extra day of rest and recovery, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him at least test that knee in warm-ups with hope. to rejoin the starting lineup.
If Antetokounmpo can don the suit, he probably won’t be operating 100 percent. However, he would provide a significant boost to his team and change the dynamics on the court just by being present.
The great number
Bucks forward Bobby Portis and Suns forward Jae Crowder have each scored 11 points or more in seven playoff games this year. Milwaukee and Phoenix have a combined 13-1 record in those games. (Portis scored exactly 11 points in the Bucks’ Game 1 loss to the Hawks.)
And both teams aren’t just winning when Portis and Crowder hit 11, they’re dominating. The average margin of victory in those games was 17.2 points.
So … the first player in 11 wins the championship?
Bucks vs Suns schedule
(All the eastern time)
|July 6th||Game 1||9 p. M.||ABC|
|July 8||Game 2||9 p. M.||ABC|
|July 11||Game 3||8 p. M.||ABC|
|July 14||Game 4||9 p. M.||ABC|
|July 17th||Game 5 *||9 p. M.||ABC|
|July 20th||Game 6 *||9 p. M.||ABC|
|July 22||Game 7 *||9 p. M.||ABC|
* If necessary
Bucks vs Suns Prediction
Suns in six
Giannis’ question makes this series extremely difficult to predict. Winning two games against the Hawks without Antetokounmpo is a very different challenge than defeating a Suns team that is talented at every position and is led by an excellent coach in Monty Williams.
Even if Antetokounmpo takes the floor, the bet here is that Phoenix, the most consistent team during the NBA regular season and playoffs, will win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.