The Early Call –
The 2021 NBA Finals are seconds away from tip-off. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns, representing the Eastern and Western Conference respectively, will do battle and it is good to see new teams going after the Larry O’Brien championship trophy. Phoenix last made it to the Finals in 1993 and Milwaukee goes back even further to 1974. When the 2021 Playoffs began I predicted this would be the year of the Bucks. Not only did I want them to win, I thought they were the better team on both sides (yes, even better than the LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets). With the Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton leading the way, and a supporting cast of Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, PJ Tucker, and more, I felt the Bucks were playing their best ball going into the playoffs. They were steady, they were consistent, they were ready to go and win it all.
The Shift –
Some early predictions had the 2nd seed Phoenix Suns losing to the 7th seed LA Lakers in the first round. That was not my prediction. The Suns definitely exceeded my expectations for the regular season, and while I (still) didn’t believe they would win the championship, I figured they would get past the defending champion Lakers. Not only did they get past the Lakers, they made it past the Denver Nuggets in the 2nd round, and then the LA Clippers in the Western Conference finals. Throughout these playoffs, the Suns have been able to take over on all fronts. Offensively and defensively, they came up with timely stops and buckets when needed. Future Hall of Famer Chris Paul and big man Jae Crowder provide veteran leadership to a young team that are showing no signs of fear. Young stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton are stepping into the spotlight and more than holding their own. From the start of the season to where we are now, the Phoenix Suns have consistently done one thing… and that is win.
The Matchup –
Chris Paul and Devin Booker vs Jrue Holiday and Kris Middleton in the backcourt… Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder vs Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez in the frontcourt… Cam Johnson and the Suns bench vs Bobby Portis and the Bucks bench… the matchups for this series are something to look forward to! In terms of coaching, I give Suns coach Monty Williams the edge over Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. In the end, it’s this writer’s opinion that the guard play of the Phoenix Suns will be the difference in the series. The clutch consistency of Paul and Booker will lead the Suns to their first championship. I wanted the Bucks to win it all this year. It would have made a good story. That said, the Suns winning the championship makes for a great story.