BallnRoll’s Official Preview & Predictions for the 2021 NBA Finals
And then there were two.
After three grueling playoff rounds and more injuries and adversity than anyone could have imagined, the NBA Finals are nearly upon us with two unlikely teams vying for the championship.
Without the services of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who continues to rehab a lower body injury, the Milwaukee Bucks moved passed a hampered Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns took care of business against an undermanned Los Angeles Clippers team to return to the Finals for the first time in 37 years.
MIL/PHX Game 1 ⤵️
Tuesday at 9 PM ET on ABC pic.twitter.com/CgcfTQdOuO
— NBA (@NBA) July 4, 2021
For the first time in his storied, Hall of Fame-worthy career, Chris Paul will compete in the NBA Finals and if Antetokounmpo is able to return for the series opener, we are surely in for one of the more unpredictable Finals in recent memories.
With that said, let’s not waste anymore time and jump right into our official breakdown and predictions for this year’s NBA Finals!
(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks
Game 1 will be played in Phoenix and there is yet to be any word on Antetokounmpo’s status.
The Bucks superstar suffered a lower body injury costing him Game 5 and 6, but behind the strong play of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, as well as Antetokounmpo’s leadership on the bench, the Bucks were able to move past the pesky Hawks.
“This is probably the most I’ve seen Giannis talk, like the whole game,” said Holiday, referring to Giannis’ continued leadership throughout the Bucks run to the Finals. “I know usually when he’s on the court and he’s running, racing through five people and blocking shots, I mean, you’re tired. He’s tired and he’s playing. But man, he’s motivating everybody, he’s motivating me, telling me to push the pace, telling me to keep being aggressive and telling me to lock people up.”
Although getting past the Hawks was no easy task, the Suns will present a challenge far greater and things will get increasingly difficult for the Bucks if they will be forced to play without Antetokounmpo.
While the Bucks boast one of the tougher defenses in the entire NBA, the Suns have continued to get better as the playoffs have gone on. Devin Booker has continued his breakout postseason, becoming a superstar in front of our very eyes, while DeAndre Ayton’s presence as one of the league’s premier two-way bigs has helped turn the Suns into a top-10 offence and defense in the league. Above all, Paul remains one of the more underappreciated superstar in the game’s history and for the first time in his 16-year career, he is finally getting the recognition he so rightfully deserves.
Entering the Finals, the Bucks and Suns are ranked 10th and 11th respectively in points per game in these playoffs, but it has been the Suns superior three-point shooting and defense that has helped guide the Suns to the second best net rating in the postseason.
If the Bucks hope to take home the championship, they will need Giannis playing at 100-percent and until we see Antetokounmpo back on the floor healthy, it is difficult to side with the Bucks.
Prediction: Suns in 7