Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks Preview
The moment that all professional basketball fans anxiously await is here: the NBA Finals. This year will feature the two-seeded Phoenix Suns coming out of the Western Conference and the three-seeded Milwaukee Bucks coming out of the Eastern Conference. If you know anyone who predicted this, they are lying, or they are from the future.
Injuries have plagued this year’s playoffs and ended up being the inevitable demise for most other playoff teams. There were critical injuries to some of the game’s biggest stars in unfortunate timing, which caused many people to wonder if there was a long enough off-season between last year and this year. Some of the key players that were injured late in the season and the playoffs were Jamal Murray, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Trae Young, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Luckily for the Suns, Chris Paul was able to fight through a nagging shoulder injury at the beginning of the playoffs. Giannis recently suffered a hyperextended knee, but there are whispers of his return for a few NBA Finals games. However, the Bucks were forced to come up with a few wins in his absence.
A massive aspect of this year’s playoffs is simply survival with the healthiest teams advancing. The Phoenix Suns have been insanely impressive throughout the entirety of the playoffs, regardless of who was in front of them. Since the Suns were the two-seed in the West, they will take home-court advantage for these Finals. They have the luxury of starting the series out at home in both of the first two games, which should relieve some stress. Regardless of whether or not Giannis comes back, this series will still be very competitive, as Milwaukee proved in its past two games. While either team could come away being NBA champions, I feel like Phoenix has a higher likelihood due to chemistry and health.
For odds movement and full matchup history, visit the Phoenix Suns vs Milwaukee Bucks Matchup Page.
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Arena: Phoenix Suns Arena- Phoenix, AZ
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Bucks Starting 5
Milwaukee Bucks Analysis
The Bucks’ two-time MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, was injured in Game 4 against the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. However, what happened after his injury was far from expected when they closed out the series against the Hawks. Milwaukee won back-to-back games with one being at home, and the other on the road. Both games were reasonably comfortable too. Jrue Holiday went for 25 points, 13 assists, six rebounds in Game 5, and then had 27 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists in Game 6. Brook Lopez dropped 33 points in Game 5. Lastly, Khris Middleton stepped up as the bonafide go-to scoring option with 26 and 32 points in Games 5 and 6, respectively.
Something clicked with the Bucks while Giannis was out. Milwaukee’s series against the Nets was filled with highs, lows, and various inconsistencies. Interestingly enough, without its MVP, the Bucks have soared in their past two games. It’s hard to identify another time that an NBA team has lost its MVP and then played better, but perhaps we are witnessing it. It’s still a tiny sample size of only two games, but definitely, something to keep an eye on.
We do know that Giannis is doubtful for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Some optimists think he will return at some point during the Finals, perhaps Game 4. However, it’s hard to say whether he will be as effective as before, even if he does return.
Suns Starting 5
The Phoenix Suns have totally coasted through the NBA playoffs this year. No team they have faced thus far has proved to be much of a challenge, although every team has had significant injury issues. T
hey took care of the Lakers in six games, which may be less impressive because Los Angeles was plagued with injuries, but many of the players on the team won the championship last year. Then, the Suns faced the Nuggets and swept them in four quick games. Denver faced a similar issue to Los Angeles in that it also had one of its two best players out with an injury, but the Nuggets still had the league MVP on their team. In the Western Conference Finals, the Suns then faced the Clippers, where a similar narrative took place. The Clippers lost their superstar, Kawhi Leonard, to a knee injury against the Utah Jazz in the previous round and were without him for the entirety of the series against the Suns.
So how much of the Suns’ run is luck from facing injury-riddled teams? And how much of it is because they are just a dominant force that cannot be contained? I could say that time will tell, but even that is uncertain, as the Bucks are missing their best player now. For the Suns, with everyone healthy, in good spirits, and Chris Paul looking like he is in his 20s again after dropping 41 points in a closeout game against the Los Angeles Clippers, an NBA championship may not be that far away. At home, they are dominant and have been all year. There is no reason why this should change unless something drastic happens.
Suns vs Bucks Betting Odds
The Suns have played very well at home in the 2021 playoffs, averaging 110.9 points per game on 48.9% from the field. As a team at home, they have shot an astonishing 86.4% from the free-throw line as well.
Phoenix has been borderline astronomically good against the spread all year with a record of 53-34-1. This ranks first in the entire NBA. In addition, Phoenix sports a 26-13 record as a home favorite, including the playoffs. And despite the sample size being relatively small, Phoenix went 4-1 against the spread after 4+ days of rest.
Milwaukee, however, was in the bottom half of the league against the spread, going a measly 42-47 in total, and it only went 19-26 as the away team. The Bucks have not been a great covering team all year and this should be noted when deciding whether or not to put money on them during this NBA Finals series.
Milwaukee and Phoenix both have Top 10 defenses in the NBA, but I’m concerned about the Bucks’ defense against Phoenix without Giannis, who was last year’s defensive player of the year in the NBA. Plus, teams have really struggled against the Suns in Phoenix both in the regular season and the playoffs, and it’s likely not going to change for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. Milwaukee and Phoenix are relatively inexperienced in terms of deep playoff runs, in general, so I would look towards which team has the best leadership and coaching. The obvious answer is the Phoenix Suns with Chris Paul and head coach Monty Williams. Milwaukee’s head coach, Mike Budenholzer, has made some mind-bogglingly poor mistakes throughout the playoffs, while the exact opposite should be said about Williams.
Despite Milwaukee’s success in the past two games against the hobbled Atlanta Hawks, I have a feeling it will fall back down to reality in this series. All signs point to the Phoenix Suns taking Game 1 at home, and I would feel very comfortable taking the Suns up to five or six points.
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