Finally, the NBA Finals are upon us. It has been a historic season, and what better way to cap it off with a historic ending. The Milwaukee Bucks have not won a title since 1971 and have not made the Finals since 1974. On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns have never won a title and have not made the Finals since 1993.
Just how did these two teams get here? Well, here’s a quick recap of the conference finals.
Recap of Conference Finals
The Bucks won the Eastern Conference in 6 games after dropping Games 1 and 4 to Atlanta. In those victories, they showed just how dominant they could be with the three-headed monster they have in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton. When those three were on their A-game, the Bucks were impossible to stop.
Giving credit to the Atlanta Hawks, nobody expected them to be in the conference finals, and they used that to their advantage. It was unfortunate that their best player Trae Young suffered an injury in the 2nd half of Game 3 that kept him out until Game 6. But on the other hand, the Bucks also lost their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, to a hyper-extended knee that has him questionable for the Finals.
The Suns, on the other hand, got off to a dominant 2-0 lead without the veteran experience of Chris Paul. When he returned in Game 3, both he and Devin Booker struggled mightily, which gave the Los Angeles Clippers a sense of hope. But that was instantly shut down as the Suns managed to get another win in Game 4, putting the Clippers on the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals.
Todays Sports 2.0 Pick of the Day
As we have seen in these playoffs, the Clippers thrive off of elimination games, but that just wasn’t the case in Game 6. Paul George looked gassed after playing nearly 700 minutes of basketball in these playoffs because of Kawhi Leonard’s injury. Sure, things would have been very different in this series if Kawhi was healthy, but nonetheless, the Suns won in 6 and will host the first two games of the NBA Finals.
Game 1 Preview and Pick
The question that everyone wants to know heading into Game 1 is whether or not Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy enough to play. As of now, he is listed as doubtful to play for Game 1, meaning the Bucks will have to play a third straight game without their leading scorer and rebounder. But as we have seen in the past two games against Atlanta, they really don’t need him.
Both of these games in the regular season were absolute nail-biters that went to the very end. Those two games ended on Devin Booker free throws to seal the deal for Phoenix. But one thing was certain in those games, Giannis was unstoppable. He averaged 40 ppg and 9.5 rpg against the Suns this season and still lost both games. That goes to show just how great the Suns really are on offense.
Game 1 should be another close game, but definitely a higher point differential than just 1 point. Without Giannis, the Suns can really focus their defense on Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, who both have been exceptional in the games Giannis has not played. On offense, the Suns will have an easier task, although the Bucks were the best defensive team in the NBA this season. Nobody on the Bucks is on Patrick Beverley’s level of defense, and nobody will be able to keep up with Devin Booker and Chris Paul. They both can create their own shots and will create matchup nightmares across the court.
There are three things guaranteed in life; Death, Taxes, and the Phoenix Suns winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals.