The two regular-season games between Milwaukee and Phoenix this season fit the same script. Both were extremely high scores. They both went down to the wire. They both saw Phoenix win by a single point, with a Devin Booker free throw finishing as the game winner each time.
There was also this: Giannis Antetokounmpo couldn’t be defended in either game.
And now, it’s the Bucks and the Suns, united forever after Milwaukee won a 1969 coin toss after the teams’ first seasons with Lew Alcindor, in the NBA Finals, with Antetokounmpo’s status as one. important question.
The NBA title series is ready: Game 1 between the Bucks and the Suns will be in Phoenix on Tuesday night, the last showdown of this compressed season that navigated through the coronavirus pandemic, players and coaches who gave positive for COVID-19, and a host of injuries to some of the game’s biggest stars, including Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul of Phoenix.
Paul is back, ready to play in the NBA Finals for the first time in his career.
Antetokounmpo can only hope to be so lucky.
The two-time NBA MVP averaged 40 points on 60% shooting against the Suns this season, but hyperextended his left knee during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta. The Bucks went 2-0 in the two complete games Antetokounmpo missed to win that series in six games, finishing it and taking the team’s top spot in the final since 1974, with a home court win for the Hawks on Saturday. the night.
“We have more work to do,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said during the East trophy ceremony.
The Bucks lost 125-124 at Phoenix on February 10, then lost 128-127 to the Suns in overtime in Milwaukee on April 19.
Milwaukee won their only NBA title in 1971. The Suns never won a championship, last reaching the final in 1993. They also lost the final in 1976.
The fact that Milwaukee reaches the final means USA Basketball will be more than a little understaffed when Olympic training camp begins in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The United States has a 12-man team for the Tokyo Games, and three of those 12, Booker of the Suns and Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday of Milwaukee, will be engaged over the next few days.
Game 7 of the NBA Finals, if the series goes to the end, is July 22. The Olympics begin on July 23, and the United States’ first game in Tokyo is on July 25 against France. USA Basketball will see to it to get Booker, Middleton and Holiday to Tokyo as quickly as possible if the US team leaves for Japan while the finals are still in play.
“It could be worse,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “I think one option is that we are going to have nine players for the first game against France. That is the worst case.”
No player on either team has ever won an NBA championship. Jae Crowder went to the finals last season with Miami, then decided to sign a three-year deal with Phoenix last summer.
“I knew our potential,” Crowder said. “I knew where we could go, the level of basketball we could play, when I first came here. I knew it was a special group. I knew we had the opportunity to do something special.”
In fact, the Suns have that opportunity.
So, now, let’s make the money.
One of them is just four wins away from lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.