After a memorable regular season and playoff stretch, the 2021 NBA Finals are finally set as the Phoenix Suns will take on the Milwaukee Bucks. The Finals appearance is the first for Phoenix since 1993 when the Charles Barkley-led Suns lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games. The Suns have never won an NBA title in franchise history, so they will be looking to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the first time ever.
The Bucks have won a title before, but it's been quite a while. Milwaukee's last championship came way back in 1971, when they were led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The last Finals appearance for the Bucks came three years later in 1974. So, regardless of who ultimately wins the series between the Suns and Bucks, one thing is for sure -- a fresh franchise will be crowned champion at the end of the season.
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For what it's worth, the Suns won both regular-season meetings between the two teams, with the most recent victory occurring in April. With that said, here's everything you need to know about Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Suns and Bucks.
(2) Phoenix Suns vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks
- Date: Tuesday, July 6 | Time: 9 ET
- Location: Phoenix Suns Arena -- Phoenix, Arizona
- TV: ABC | Live stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Odds: MIL +210; PHO -250 | O/U: 217 (via William Hill Sportsbook)
Suns: They have had an extremely impressive run in the postseason so far, but it's impossible not to acknowledge the luck that they've had when it comes to opponent injury issues. They were able to advance past the Lakers in the first round after Anthony Davis went down, then beat the Nuggets without their second-best player in Jamal Murray in the second round, and their victory over the Clippers in the Western Conference finals came with Kawhi Leonard on the sideline for the entirety of the series. Had Leonard played, that series might have turned out very differently. It will be interesting to see if Phoenix's stretch of luck continues in the Finals, as the Bucks could potentially be without their best player, at least to start. If their luck doesn't continue and two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is able to play, we will get to see how they perform against a team at full strength for the first time this postseason.
Bucks: For the Bucks, the health of Antetokounmpo is the central storyline. He missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks after suffering a knee injury in Game 4 of the series, and his status for the Finals is not known at this point. The Bucks were able to take care of business against Atlanta without Antetokounmpo, but it will be much more difficult to do so against a well-balanced Suns squad. In order to defeat Phoenix, the Bucks will need Antetokounmpo to be near the peak of his powers, and for him to put consistent pressure on the Suns' defense, If he's close to full health, the Bucks will have a great chance of winning. If not, the advantage swings to the Suns.
Game 1 takes place in Phoenix, so the Suns will have the benefit of having their raucous crowd behind them to lean on for motivation. That combined with the fact that Antetokounmpo could be a bit hobbled, or rusty, if he plays in the game, should work in Phoenix's favor. Pick: Suns -6