Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks
July 6, 2021 8:00 pm EDT
The Line: Bucks +165 / Suns -185
(Click here for latest betting odds)
The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks meet in the NBA Finals, and before game 1 begins, let’s break this series down position by position to gain an edge. We’ll also finish things off with a series prediction.
Point Guard – Jrue Holiday is one of the more underrated players in the league and he played better against the Hawks, averaging 22 points and defending well. Chris Paul has been arguably the best player these playoffs for the Suns, and he closed out the Clippers in game six with 41 points on 66.7 percent shooting. Holiday is the better all around player, but CP3 is more consistent and more trustworthy down the stretch. I have to lean Point God.
Shooting Guard – Khris Middleton has played some of his best ball since the injury to Antetokounmpo, as he took over in the third quarter of game five against the Hawks and dropped 32 points in a close out game six. Devin Booker is slowly becoming a legit star in this league and his scoring flurry ability is a major x-factor in this series. However, Booker has struggled since the broken nose, and he shot just 37.1 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from three against the Clippers. Booker is the better player with the higher upside, but I lean Middleton here.
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Small Forward – P.J. Tucker has been a non-factor offensively, scoring single-digit points in eight of his last nine games, but he’s still a pittbull defensively and competes for rebounds. Mikal Bridges has made some timely shots in these playoffs and he’s shooting 46.8 percent from the field through 515 minutes. With all that said, Tucker is still more important to what the Bucks want to do and his impact is more consistent.
Power Forward – There may not be power forward in the league who is going to win the matchup against Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, Antetokounmpo remains day-to-day with a knee injury and there’s some doctors who have mentioned they don’t expect him to play based on the injury. Jae Crowder is a great teammate, defends at a high level and he’s capable of knocking down the three from time to time. Also, it should be mentioned Crowder was key to the Miami Heat beating the Bucks in last years playoffs, mainly with how he defended Giannis. Bucks still have the edge if Antetokounmpo plays, but his health is the question mark of the series.
Advantage: Bucks (If Giannis plays)
Center – Brook Lopez was key to the Bucks closing out the Hawks, especially with his 33 points in game five. Lopez also has 27 blocks 481 playoff minutes. Deandre Ayton has been a monster in these playoffs, as he’s shooting 70.6 percent from the field and has posted seven double-doubles in his last 10 games. This will be a fun position battle, especially with Lopez’s ability to shoot the three, but Ayton has been the surprise star of the postseason.
Bench – The Bucks got some key play from Bobby Portis in the Hawks series, but outside of that, there’s been nobody else who has stepped up consistently. In fact, there’s been games where the Bucks starters have done nearly everything on the offensive end. The Bucks bench has not been reliable to say the least.
Cameron Payne went from playing overseas and being left for dead to carrying the land in CP3s absence and looking like somebody who can be a top tier backup guard. Torrey Craig defends well at the small forward spot and Cameron Johnson averaged 10.8 points in 23.6 minutes against the Clippers. The Suns depth has been key for where they’re in the NBA Finals. They clearly have the bench edge.
Series Prediction – It’s hard to confidently pick this series without knowing the status of Antetokounmpo. He’s listed as day-to-day, but many doctors have commented on the injury and said they’d be surprised if he’s able to play. We also have to remember that Crowder was key in defending Antetokounmpo in last years playoffs for the Heat, so even if he plays, we have evidence of this matchup possibly favoring the Suns.
With all that said, I’ll continue to ride the Suns bandwagon. I’ve been on this team from the start of the playoffs and they’ve been the most consistent team from the jump. The Suns are deep, can score at high percentages and have been surprisingly good defensively. They also have CP3 leading the way, a guy who has come through in the clutch time and time again, and he has to taste his first NBA title. This is a legacy moment for the Hall of Fame point guard.
I’ll take the Suns in six.