The 2020-2021 season has been full of surprises and injuries, and these playoffs have dropped the top favorite teams to the title. In these NBA Finals 2021 neither are the reigning champions nor the ‘big-three’ from Brooklyn, nor are the top two finishers from each conference. The final tie is disputed the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, two franchises with pending accounts with history.
Whoever wins the title will end a half-century drought: the Suns have never won a championship in 53 years of history and the last Bucks ring arrived in 1971, when they were led by the legendary Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson.
These NBA Finals present a unique opportunity for the main references of both teams. Chris Paul is planted in his first battle for the ring after 16 years of experience, while Giannis Antetokounmpo has the first opportunity to accompany his two titles as MVP with the title Larry O’Brien, the great goal of any player in history.
The Achilles heel on which the tie can turn it is, in this case, a knee. Specifically that of Antetokounmpo, who was injured in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks and it is serious doubt to participate in the NBA Finals.
The Greek evidently I would like to force the machineBut his coach, teammates and the medical staff have chosen the prudent route. Step by step and few updates on the true physical condition of the player that has led them to this golden opportunity.
“Let’s see what happens when we go out to play. We will update the situation day by day. He’s had a good day and he’s making progress, but I have no expectations in any way“Mike Budenholzer answered in the face of Anteto’s situation for the first game.
His injury, a left knee hyperextension, should keep him out for 10-14 days at best, according to several experts in the field consulted. The Bucks have not revealed much: there is no structural damage and the player was back on track just 4 days after the injury.
The threat of the ‘pick and roll’
The fight for the ring faces two of the most complete teams in the current NBA. The Suns are a balanced and lethal offensive weapon, which pose the total threat of Devin Booker, its young star, with the contrasting threat of Chris paul, the most decisive player in these playoffs when the games enter their decisive stretch.
Phoenix presents a superb blocking and continuation game that stands out the work of Deandre Ayton, the pivot who has dominated above the rest in this NBA postseason at the offensive level. The challenge for the Bahamian now is to wake up in defense against some Bucks who can throw him different challenges.
Cameron Payne, from the bench, also represents one of the great threats in the game from outside to inside these Suns, excellently motivated and organized by Monty williams, voted best coach of the year by his colleagues in the NBA coaches association (second in the NBA vote).
Defense and equipment issue
The Bucks’ big argument in these finals is his proven defense, main necessity before the offensive efficiency of his opponent. Its list of values is experienced and verified: Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and PJ Tucker they are authentic defensive ticks, insistent and heavy against any challenge they face.
If to this we add the size and marvelous physique of Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee starts with a notable advantage on the defensive side of things. The doubts with the Greek will give again prominence to the duo Holiday-Middleton
in attack, two players with capabilities to spare to shine as top stars.
In these playoffs, the absence of the Greek in the outcome of the previous tie has awakened the best version of López and reserve Bobby Portis Jr., who came away with their best scores in a playoffs.
The project led from the bench by Mike budenholzer has two very important things: previous experience and continuity. The bucks have reached the Conference Finals two of the last three seasons in which they have also obtained the best record in the NBA.
This course they have chosen a different approach: more tests during the regular season and a lower ranking for a more in-depth and proven template.
On the opposite side, the Suns have reached the playoffs after a 10-year drought and they present more youth and less experience.
The duel in numbers
Regular season precedents indicate two narrow wins in favor of Phoenix, although several key players were not with both teams at the time. Both wins were double-digit comebacks from the Suns, who lost by 16 and 12 in the third quarter and rowed to win both games by a single point.
Those couple of examples indicate the foreseeable equality of these Conference Finals, who start with Phoenix as favorites at home in the more than probable absence of Anteto.
The story of the tie will turn on the physical state of the Greek, something logical given that he is the only player who has two MVPs and a defender of the year title in both squads.
When i was still healthy, analysts and bookmakers gave a clear favoritism to the Bucks to lift his first ring in over 50 years. Now, things are not so clear. These NBA Finals 2021 promise strong emotions.