NBA Finals 2021

NBA Finals 2021: Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks preview

The NBA Finals are set with the MIlwaukee Bucks taking care of the Atlanta Hawks in six games to book a matchup against the Phoenix Suns, who emerged in six games against the LA Clippers

The No. 2 seed Suns are into their first Finals since 1993 in search of the franchise's first championship, while the Bucks return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974, with their last championship coming in 1971.

Can Giannis Antetokounmpo return to get his team over the hump? Or will the Chris Paul fairytale run continue?

NBA.com is your destination for complete coverage of every series from now through the end of the NBA Finals.

Series Schedule

Game 1 - Tuesday, July 6 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Game 2 - Thursday, July 8 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Game 3 - Sunday, July 11 - 8:00 p.m. ET

Game 4 - Wednesday, July 14 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Game 5 (if necessary) - Saturday, July 17 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Game 6 (if necessary) - Tuesday, July 20 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Game 7 (if necessary) - Thursday, July 22 - 9:00 p.m. ET

Season Series

Result: Suns won 2-0

Best game: April. 20, 2021 - Suns 128, Bucks 127 (OT)

Best performance: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Feb. 11, 2021) - 47 points (15-23 FG, 0-4 3PT, 17-21 FT), 11 rebounds, five assists, one steal.

The Suns might have won both regular season games, but not by much.

There was barely anything separating these two teams in the regular season with both contests ending in thrilling finishes with the Suns emerging victorious by one point on both occasions.

In their most recent game in April, Devin Booker led the Suns with 24 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, delivering the game-winning blow with just 0.3 seconds left on the clock.

After Khris Middleton tied things up at 127-127 with a 3-pointer with 22.1 seconds to go, Jae Crowder inbounded the ball to Booker who tried to get a shot off, flanked by Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker, with officals ruling Tucker had fouled the Suns star.

He calmly buried his first free throw to give the Suns a thrilling win.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 33 points, Middleton 26 and Holiday 25, but it wasn't enough as the Suns held their nerve.

Earlier in the season in February, it was a similar story as the Suns eeked out a 125-124 win as all five starters scored in double figures led by Booker's 30 and Paul's 28 - with the duo combining for 15 points in the fourth quarter.

They overcame a monster performance from Giannis Anteokounpo who put on a dominant display in the paint, going off for 47 points, including 15-of-19 inside the arc throwing down dunk after dunk.

He tied tiings up at 124-124 with yet another dunk, but again it was a Devin Booker free throw that decided the contest.

Antetokounmpo had a chance to win it at the buzzer, missing a 20-foot jumper.

Key Storyline: Will Giannis Antetokounmpo be healthy for the Finals?

The Bucks managed to book their spot in the Finals, winning Games 5 and 6 without their franchise leader, but will they be able to do it in the Finals?

Antetokounmpo suffered a hyperextended left knee in Game 4, but avoided any structural damage , with reports emerging that he could have been available for Game 7 if it went the distance, according to Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.

Now with a few days rest before the NBA Finals get underway, the Greek Freak will have some extra time up his sleeve to ge right before the biggest series of his life.

His availablity and overall health will be the major swinging factor in this series, with the Bucks holding an 8-5 record without him during the 2020-21 reglar season and playoffs,.

The 26-year-old has been nothing short of dominant through the Bucks' pplayoff run, averaging 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists on 55.1 percent shooting from the field.

Suns big man Deandre Ayton has emerged into an effective defensive player in the paint, but will he have enough to contain the two-time MVP?

It's unclear if Antetokounmpo will be at 100% health for this series, but if he is on the floor, the Suns' game plan dramatically changes.

Three Players to watch

Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

It might be his first ever postseason appearance, but you can hardly tell.

Booker has delivered in big moments for the Suns throughout the playoffs, leading them in scoring at 27.0 points per game, adding 6.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists, while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from the 3-point line.

Battling through a broken nose in the Conference Finals, Booker has shown not only toughness, but a winning mentality, averaging 34.3 points in the Suns' three closeout games against the Lakers, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Bucks have multipe long, athletic defenders to throw at the two-time All-Star, but slowing down his scoring output seems as tough a task as any in these playoffs.

Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Middleton has been up and down through the postseason, but whenever the Bucks have really needed him, he's stood tall as their primary scoring option.

He led them with 32 points in their closout Game 6 against the Hawks and finished with a near triple-double in Game 5 with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

If Antetokounmpo isn't quit healthy for the first few games of the series, Middleton will be the key man for the Bucks.

Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

This is Chris Paul's moment.

After 16 seasons, the 36-year-old is into his first NBA Finals with the biggest opportunity to achieve his ultimate goal.

His 41-point masterpice in Game 6 against the Clippers will go down as one of the signature moments of his career, but he'll be up agianst a tall order in the Finals matched up with Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday, one of the best defenders at the position in the entire league.

With Antetokounmpo's status up in the air, Holiday's workload will be immense on both sides of the floor, especially with Paul's ability to run defenders ragged in the pick-and-roll.

This one-on-one matchup could well be the deciding factor in the championship.

Predictions

Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): Suns in 7

Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): Bucks in 7

Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles): Suns in 6

Stats to know

Copy: Suns-Clippers
Infogram

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