If you’re a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks, you might already be thinking about the NBA Finals, which kicks off Tuesday night. The Bucks are about to embark on a new era, with Giannis Antetokounmpo heading to New York to play for his hometown Knicks. Antetokounmpo’s departure will leave a huge gap for the Bucks, who will be looking to fill it in the off-season. The top candidates are John Henson and Greg Monroe, who have the size and contract to help fill the void.
The Milwaukee Bucks are now the kings of the NBA, having just won the championship in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The series against the Golden State Warriors was highly anticipated, and a close contest was expected. However, the Bucks pulled through in close fashion, winning the series in Game 6 by one point. The series breakdown was as follows: Golden State Warriors – 103-101 Milwaukee Bucks – 102-101 Golden State Warriors – 107-101 Golden State Warriors – 101-98 Milwaukee Bucks – 103-100 Golden State Warriors – 95-95 Milwaukee Bucks – 97-93 The Bucks will now play the 22-seed Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals. The series will begin on May 24, 2021.
The Milwaukee Bucks are also 0-2 in this postseason, but can the Bucks find a way to come back against the Phoenix Suns like they did against the Brooklyn Nets?
The dynamic duo of Devin Booker and Chris Paul has guided the Suns through the first two games, and if they can win two more games, one of them will likely become the MVP of the NBA Finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health is no longer an issue for the Bucs, as the former two-time MVP is playing exceptionally well this early in the series. But can others on the team, like Chris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, take the offense to the next level?
Our experts talk about what impressed them most, how each team can win Game 3 (Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC) and predict how long the series will last.
1. What was most impressive about the Suns’ 2-0 win?
Tim Bontemps: The different ways Phoenix can win. In the first game, the Suns benefited from a dominant game from Deandre Ayton, who made it to the foul line and outrebounded the Bucks with fast break points. Ayton played no role in Game 2, the Suns barely got to the line or ran – but they did hit 20-40 three-pointers, got 27 points from Mikal Bridges, and made huge and timely shots throughout the game. They are a complete team that plays in an interesting style.
ABC is your home to watch the 2021 NBA Finals with the Phoenix Suns leading against the Milwaukee Bucks 2-0.
Game 3: Sunday, 8 p.m. ET
Game 4: Wednesday, 9 a.m. ET
Game 5*: 17. July, 9 p.m. ET
Thu 6*: 20. July, 9 p.m. ET
Thu 7*: 22. July, 9pm ET
Kevin Pelton: Phoenix goes for a takedown. That’s not surprising, as the Suns rank second in NBA history (behind the Clippers this season) with 83 percent free throws in the regular season, but no team shot as well as Phoenix (37 of 40, 92.5 percent) in the first two games of the Finals. Especially in the first game, in which the Suns went to the line 26 times and missed only once, the penalties piled up.
Jorge Sedano: Your peace of mind. Considering this team has almost no playoff experience outside of Chris Paul and Jay Crowder. It’s amazing how they’ve responded in the first two games and taken full control of the series early on.
Royce Young: The variety of games. The Suns are far from a Chris Paul or Devin Booker show, and they showed in the postseason how balanced they can be. The ball is moving, the offense is running and the quality of the throws is still good. Everyone talks about adjustments for the Bucks, but the Suns are a tough team to adjust to because they can beat you in a different way.
To Youngmisuk: Phoenix’s composure under pressure and ability to adapt to anything Milwaukee does is impressive. Instead of this moment paralyzing him, Booker looks like he’s been through this before. And when Jrue Holiday tried to slow Chris Paul down in Game 2, Booker and Mikal Bridges took over. The Suns’ confidence in each other continues to grow, as evidenced by double-digit assists late in the first half of Game 2.
2. Who is the most important player in the series so far?
Youngmisuk: Chris Paul. Booker was excellent in Game 2, but Paul can calm the Suns down when Milwaukee pressures and score an easy basket when they need it, whether it’s with a mid-range shot or a pass from Deandre Eaton. As Paul showed in the first game, he can take over the second half if needed, but he can also hit the shots from the field and give his partners the best opportunities.
Bontemps: Jrue Holiday. It may be surprising to see this reaction from a team that is 2-0 down in the series, but Holiday was not good enough offensively. He just can’t be 11-for-35 in the first two games – and he was 7-for-28 in the first six quarters. Yes, his defense was great in Game 2, but if Milwaukee wants to win this series, Holiday and Chris Middleton, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, will need to mount a consistent offense for the Bucks.
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Sedano: Fiction. I think the Bucs get a third game. But the Suns seem to be the better team at the moment. I’ve already talked about his composure. I forgot to mention their impeccable execution. Meanwhile, all of Milwaukee has been very inconsistent. I don’t think it changes the overall look of this series.
Youth: Done. The Bucs have shown the ability to get back into the series. It’s premature to draw conclusions after two games, and Giannis was fantastic in the second game. The Bucks have not played well, and they can count on Holiday and Middleton to prove themselves in at least a few games, especially on their home field.
Youngmisuk: Done. This isn’t the first time Milwaukee has looked out of position in the first two games of the series. The Bucks led 2-0 and gave up 39 points in the second game of the second round in Brooklyn. But they saved their season with their defense, limiting the Nets to 83 points in Game 3 and 96 points in Game 4 to turn the series around. Milwaukee needs to play like an elite defensive team, limit the number of defeats and defend like their season is on the line.
Bontemps: Done. To assume that this streak is over after the Suns won two games at home – and especially Game 2 with 20 three-pointers – is shortsighted. It’s disrespectful to Phoenix, a great team that could very well win this title, but I expect this series to go back to Milwaukee for Game 6.
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