NBA Finals Preview: Suns vs. Bucks

NBA Finals Preview: Suns vs. Bucks

by July 5, 2021 2 comments

The NBA Finals are set with the Phoenix Suns set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in what is guaranteed to be an exciting series. The Suns represent the Western Conference from the second seed while the Bucks are the Eastern Conference representatives after entering the NBA Playoffs as the third seed in the conference.

The Suns enter the NBA Finals with a 12-4 record in the playoffs so far. While impressive, the Bucks are right behind them with a 12-5 mark of their own.

The two teams last met on April 19, which was a thriller that required Overtime to give the fans a winner. The Suns took that one eventually, wrapping up the regular season series 2-0 in their favor.

We await the fate of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is currently being listed as day-to-day by the Bucks. The Bucks obviously need the two-time Most Valuable Player Award winner in order to make a run at the series.

The Suns have long been a true contender in the NBA and are looking to lock up a title that few saw coming. It’s a finals showdown that almost no one could have told you would happen. It’s going to be historic on a number of different levels.

Series Odds

Bucks +145

Suns -180

The Suns enter the Finals as relatively heavy favorites. Much of that can be assigned to the unknown status of Giannis. That is without a doubt playing into this series price and should be something bettors factor in when making any decisions on a series line.

Can the series be grabbed later at a better value? It depends on what side one is looking to bet. If you want to assume Giannis will be able to play, and sooner rather than later, now is the time to take the Bucks for value.

Once it is determined he will play or will be returning the price on the Bucks is going to take a hit. It works the other way, as well. The Suns are favored by a decent amount right now and rightfully so. If Giannis is cleared to play ahead of game one the price on the series is going to change a fair amount.

If you don’t want to factor in the unknowns, step away from the series prices in this one. The best player in the series and arguably the world is day-to-day. That needs to be a factor in the decision-making process.

The Bucks are the play here. If not, look into the number of games played in the series Over Under. Don’t expect this one to go anywhere under six games. Both teams are too talented and hungry for them to fall short of a six-game series.

Darkhorse candidates to take home the NBA Finals MVP include Khris Middleton for the Bucks. Don’t wager too much on that as it is truly Giannis’s award to lose.

Key Matchups

Chris Paul and Devin Booker vs Jrue Holiday

The Bucks big acquisition of the offseason was guard Jrue Holiday and his value will be tested in the Finals. The Suns feature one of the most dynamic backcourts in the NBA today behind veteran CP3 and the young but often dynamite Booker.

Holiday will have his hands full while likely matching up with both guards over the course of the series. While guarding Paul, the focus will be disrupting the flow he has as an all-time great floor general. With Booker, he will be tasked with slowing down one of the elite scorers in the game today. Not easy tasks, obviously.

He’ll need support from his teammates while matched up with either. Still, the more he is successful in doing on his own against both players the better position he will put his Bucks team in overall.

Deandre Ayton vs Brook Lopez

Two centers that play a vital role in what their respective teams do are at the center of this series. Both are shot-blockers who provide great value as rim protectors for their teams. They also share the importance of playing key roles offensively, though those roles are very different in the details.

Lopez will do his best to keep Ayton away from the basket when the Bucks have the ball. As a floor stretching five he can’t be left alone from behind the arc. Lopez enters the finals shooting 35.3 percent from three. The more he opens the lanes up for his teammates the better off the Bucks will be as an offensive force.

Ayton, meanwhile, will be a handful for the Bucks on the offensive end without a doubt. He can play bully ball and will test the limits of players like Lopez, Bobby Portis, and P.J. Tucker as both post defenders and pick and roll defenders.

The matchup of big men won’t always be direct but it will without a doubt be one of the deciding factors in who has the edge in this series overall. An eruption from either center could prove the difference-maker.

Bucks X-Factor: Bobby Portis

With a shout-out to wing Middleton, the Bucks x-factor in the finals is going to be big man Portis. Not the household name or featured player that some of his teammates are, Portis has proven quite the asset in his first year on the Bucks.

Although he has struggled from behind the arc in the playoffs, his regular-season success rate says that is bound to change. Portis is hitting on just 30.6 percent of his shots from behind the arc so far these playoffs. He is a much better shooter than that.

If he can get that number closer to his regular-season success rate he will put the Bucks in a great position for success. By stretching the floor he takes a guy like Ayton away from the rim. Further, he can’t be defended by a small defender because his offensive repertoire is far too dynamic for an undersized defender to take him out of the game.

If the Suns try getting by with a smaller defender on him, expect the Bucks game plan to shift and place a stronger emphasis on getting BP the ball in the mid to high post. The low post is ideal for him, but he doesn’t even have to exert himself for low catches if he has that much of a height difference.

Suns X-Factor: Mikal Bridges

We go from one underrated piece in Portis to another in Mikal Bridges of the Suns. Like BP, Bridges is a player who often gets overlooked on his team due to the presence of much bigger names.

If there’s ever a time that Bridges will be crucial, though, it is in these NBA Finals. Typically defined as a three and D specialist at this young point in his career, that is exactly the type of player that could prove to be the difference-maker in this seven-game series.

Bridges will have the tough-to-win assignment of covering the likes of Giannis, Middleton and Holiday throughout this series. None will be shut down across the series, so saying it’s a can’t win could be justified. It would still be incorrect, though.

To win, it is all about slowing down those players. Bridges will be able to help in that area and will be given open shots on the other end of the floor. If he hits those shots and makes an impact in transition, Bridges could be the man to swing this series in the Suns favor.

Prediction: Bucks 4, Suns 2

With the assumption being made that Giannis will return at some point in the series, it’s hard to not take the Bucks. Whether he plays game one may not matter at the end of the day. The Suns and Bucks may split the first two games. Regardless of where things stand when he suits up he will be entering the series motivated.

That opens the door for a game three return in which he can be much closer to 100 percent healthy. That kind of Giannis is a different beast and one you can expect to push the Bucks over the top.

Unless he is ruled out for the series, the Bucks are going to take home the championship. It will be a hard-fought series and Chris Paul is going to lead the Suns even further in this incredible series but ultimately they are going to be overwhelmed by the Bucks well-rounded roster and leader in Giannis.

Both teams are deep and will show that throughout. As much as well all want to see CP3 take one home, the time is not here yet. The Bucks have too much depth and talent to be stopped in a series.

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Main Image Credit:  https://wxow.com/2021/07/03/milwaukee-bucks-advance-to-face-phoenix-suns-in-nba-finals-beating-atlanta-hawks-118-107-in-game-6-2/

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