After a longer than usual postseason, the best two teams advanced to the finals. Both teams deserve to play after what they’ve gone through with injuries and games played. To have two teams that haven’t been to the NBA Finals in at least two decades is special and should be appreciated. While it is sad one team has to come out victorious, the winner will be remembered for years, if not decades to come. Time to break down who finally takes the Larry O’Brien trophy home.
#2 Phoenix Suns v. #3 Milwaukee Bucks
Before June 30th, the Suns’ best season came in Charles Barkley’s MVP season in 1993. The first of the big four pro-sports teams in Phoenix, Monty Williams and Chris Paul did everything to get to the finals, including two series-winning games in Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton and Jae Crowder are playing the best basketball in their careers. The Suns’ success stems from passing the ball well, leading opposing defenses to break down before charging into the paint or shooting from long to mid-range.
Giannis Antetokounmpo may not start the series but that doesn’t mean Milwaukee’s guard tandem of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton can’t lock down the Suns’ Devin Booker and Chris Paul. Brook Lopez is playing some of his best basketball since his old days in Brooklyn. If he plays against DeAndre Ayton like he did against the Hawks last round, Phoenix may have some issues they can’t patch up.
Pivotal matchup: Monty Williams v. Mike Budenholzer
If it wasn’t for Coach Williams, the Suns wouldn’t be in the NBA Finals. Even without Chris Paul on the court, dating back to last season in playoff (or play-in) games, Phoenix is undefeated with Williams on the bench. His second coaching stint has revealed how much he’s learned being an assistant, and that’s translated on the court. Meanwhile Mike Budenholzer has made the necessary adjustments that eluded him in past series and seasons, allowing the Bucks to play some of their best basketball of the season when their two time MVP has been injured.
The biggest issue for Milwaukee is when Giannis comes back from injury. Most fans wouldn’t think that to be true, but the Bucks would have to juggle their lineups at least three games in a series where the chemistry could be at its best. Monty Williams has shown he can adjust a lineup and make sure a team like the Suns play their best basketball late in a series.
Prediction: The Phoenix Suns win the series and their first NBA Championship 4-2