2021 NBA Finals Thread (Phoenix Suns v Milwaukee Bucks). Bucks Champions

Who will lift the Larry O'Brien trophy?


  • Total voters
    49

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peternorth

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May 6, 2005
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The Phoenix Suns rose to the NBA finals after defeating Ty Lue and his LA Clippers 4-2. Led by former Sun and Hornet Chris Paul, and two first round draft picks in Booker and Ayton, the Suns have catapulted to championship favouritism*

At time of writing, they will be well rested and will play the Atlanta Hawks or the Milwaukee Bucks.

More to come

Here is the stuff that was here to come:


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peternorth

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For the first time in NBA/ABA history, the Suns of Phoenix and the Milwaukee Bucks will battle if out for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Both teams advanced to the finals with an identical series scoreline.

Phoenix will fancy themselves with NBA playoffs MVP CP3 in MVP form to break their duck. Waulkee are going for the second. Questions remain about Giannis and his injury, which arguably came at the worst time. IF he doesn't get up it will mean Phoenix will play yet another team besotted by injuries. It seems the goat Look2Me4Guidance sacrificed is working.....


Trivia:
  • It extends the remarkable run of NBA finalists who once featured an Australian centre to 6 years.
  • A quick glance at the rosters, no one on either side has won an NBA championship before, letter loan been to the finals! For that to have occurred, it needed Rajon Rondo and the Clips to make it. Except Crowder. Yeah.
  • NBL star Torrey "not Black" Craig will receive a ring irrespective!


Enjoy the series mofos
 
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scaryness

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I want the Suns to win. My head says Bucks, but that depends on how many games Giannis plays and his ability to play after the injury.
 

scaryness

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Whatever happens there will be all-time ranking movements if you're into that.

CP3 finally wins a ring which has to put him top 5 PG ever if he wasn't already, possibly top 3 if he was. Giannis wins and he has 2 MVPs, a small market championship and possibly a finals MVP by age 26. Already puts him in all-time ranks imo.
 

apollo_creed

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Stake your fortunes and sacrifice any depth on an injury prone player who shock… gets injured and you are ‘besotted’ by injuries.

Entitled Lakers fans as per usual, overcome by delusion and the expectation that the title should be handed to them every year.

Wonder what the human rights masters at the CCP (LeBron’s main employer) think about it?

And who would’ve though Kawhi would get injured? Shocks all round!
 

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Memphis

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For the first time in NBA/ABA history, the Suns of Phoenix and the Milwaukee Bucks will battle if out for the Larry O'Brien trophy. Both teams advanced to the finals with an identical series scoreline.

Phoenix will fancy themselves with NBA playoffs MVP CP3 in MVP form to break their duck. Waulkee are going for the second. Questions remain about Giannis and his injury, which arguably came at the worst time. IF he doesn't get up it will mean Phoenix will play yet another team besotted by injuries. It seems the goat Look2Me4Guidance sacrificed is working.....


Trivia:
  • It extends the remarkable run of NBA finalists who once featured an Australian centre to 6 years.
  • A quick glance at the rosters, no one on either side has won an NBA championship before, letter loan been to the finals! For that to have occurred, it needed Rajon Rondo and the Clips to make it. Except Crowder. Yeah.
  • NBL star Torrey "not Black" Craig will receive a ring irrespective!


Enjoy the series mofos
He has probably sacrificed several goats.
 

Son of Skeletor

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Road to the 2021 NBA Finals, also known as the Lew Alcindor/P.J. Tucker/Brandon Knight/Torrey Craig Cup.


MILWAUKEE BUCKS (46-26, 3rd in East)

Def. Miami Heat 4-0
Def. Brooklyn Nets 4-3
Def. Atlanta Hawks 4-2


PHOENIX SUNS (51-21, 2nd in West)

Def. L.A. Lakers 4-2
Def. Denver Nuggets 4-0
Def. L.A. Clippers 4-2



The Anatomy of a Winning Team, Part I

When we look at these two feared teams, it cannot help but be observed about a profound influence a certain basketball team in the Bayou has had in bringing us to this point.

In the Milwaukee camp, we have former Pelican star Jrue Holiday. And in the orange corner, we have New Orleans legend Chris Paul, ex Louisianans E'Twaun Moore and Langston Galloway coming off the bench, and the man overseeing it all is Monty Williams, beloved ex Pelicans nee Hornets coach. Hell, even the next coach of New Orleans is supposed to come from either the Milwaukee or Phoenix assistant ranks, with Hornet old-boy and current Suns assistant Willie Green the frontrunner.

Clearly the Pelicans are at the forefront in the league when it comes to sharing the wealth, as the Lakers and Anthony Davis found out last season. They should be commended for their ongoing efforts to promote league equality, and will be making their own appearance under the bright lights of the NBA Finals soon. At least I think that's how this works...


The Anatomy of a Winning Team, Part II

Now that we've got the important stuff out of the way, let's take a quick look at how these two teams put their talented rosters together.

It might surprise many, but for a team top-heavy team built around stars, the Bucks' roster is not actually filled with many lottery luminaries. Milwaukee sowed the seeds of their return to basketball relevance in 2013, when they not only somehow stole Giannis at pick 15 in the woeful 2013 Draft, but had an ex-Piston second round pick thrown into the Brandon Jennings/Brandon Knight trade - one James Kristian Middleton. P.J. Tucker meanwhile is the archetypal second round pick makes good story, while even Jrue Holiday was only the 17th pick way back in 2009. Believe it or not, Brook Lopez rates as the highest pick draftee on the Bucks' team, taken at #10 in 2008. Considering their poor drafting record in post-Giannis drafts - think Jabari Parker, Rashad Vaughan, Thon Maker and D.J. Wilson - it's astounding that Milwaukee finds itself in this position. They've turned over more deadwood than the Collingwood Football Club and Pricey's Mum combined.

Wasting draft picks is something Phoenix fans got used to under erstwhile GM Ryan McDonough, but their current roster is testament to the old Hinkie theory that if you throw enough darts at the board, eventually a couple will stick. Unlike the Bucks, the Suns' roster is loaded with lottery studs - Ayton, Booker, Bridges (the latter two proving the exception to McDonough's otherwise horrific rule, being taken in the late lottery), CP3, Saric, Johnson, Payne and even Frank the Tank himself were all lottery picks. Based purely on college and scouting bona fides, Phoenix's roster should by rights be the more stacked. Finally, official confirmation that the Western Conference is the most stacked.

Of course drafting is only one part of the puzzle, and it wasn't that long ago that, while Milwaukee seemed on the verge of an NBA championship, the Suns were spinning their wheels amongst the NBA's cellar dwellers. Coaching and culture enter into it. So too does aggressive trading, and floor leadership...


My Kingdom for a Point God

Aside from being unfashionable afterthoughts in the NBA media landscape, one thing the Bucks and Suns have in common is that they swung hard for the fences over the off-season. More specifically, they both went after a floor general. Unfortunately Pat Beverley took this last part a bit too literally.

While Milwaukee was throwing the kitchen sink and every draft pick not nailed down to Ted Stepien's ghost the Pelicans' way in their quest to find a guard capable of handling playoff pressure, Phoenix was quietly beating the competition to the original point savant himself, CP3. When you remember that the price paid was Ricky Rubio, Kelly Oubre and a single draft pick, it's hard to escape the conclusion that a lot of teams missed a trick by not considering a similar move.

While Paul's influence on the Suns has been obvious for all to see, it has taken until the pointy end of the season for the Bucks' off-season gamble to pay off. Anyone believe Milwaukee's former point guard could have average 22 & 10, or held the team together in the absence of Giannis? No, me neither. Kendrick Perkins might, though.


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Bucks Bits

You Can't Spell 'Giannis Antetokounmpo' Without 'S T O P'.

Obviously a lot of the focus for this series, particularly the lead-up, will focus on Giannis' gangly go-go-gadget left leg. If I told you that the Bucks would miss the two-time MVP, you'd know that I've been reading Grant Hill, Reggie Miller and Mark Jackson's duh-duh special comment cue-cards.

One thing that might have been overlooked though is the way in which the Bucks' offence held together, and yes even flourished, during their back-to-back victories that sealed their series with the Hawks. Milwaukee's ball movement often looked noticeably better with Holiday initiating the offence rather than Giannis, while Lopez was utilised a lot more as both a screener and a roller, as opposed to simply standing at the three point line.

To surmise that the Bucks offence becomes stagnant with Giannis involved would be to go too far. It might behoove Mike Budenholzer however to allow Holiday and Middleton to initiate more offence, with a particular focus to keeping Lopez involved. In a series against DeAndre Ayton, Milwaukee needs to find a way to make their own big man a 'plus', rather than a negative. Speaking of which...


Drop Dead

Early in the Atlanta series, Budenholzer stayed with his famous drop defence, which was systematically dismantled by Trae Young. Lopez, ineffective on offence and completely unable to stop Young's patented 'floater', was played off the court as the Bucks were forced to go small. The latter always sounds like something an ex-gf would say.

However once the Bucks and Bud finally made the adjustment employed a switching defence, Atlanta's offence dried up quicker than the smoky swirl masquerading as Trae Young's hairline. Part of this was doubtless due to Young's injury, but Lopez quickly went from unplayable to very important as the Bucks clinched the series.

Now facing not one, but two 'mid range maestros' in CP3 and Booker, Milwaukee will face a similar dilemma. With Giannis' health in question, and Bobby Portis the only serviceable back up big, the Bucks need Lopez's size to combat Ayton in the paint. They cannot afford to have him run off the court, at either end of the floor.

The equation for the Bucks is simple - the ball needs to move, and the drop defence needs to die. Otherwise, defeat by a thousand floaters beckons.


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Suns Stuff

Bridges Over Troubled Waters?

Mikal Bridges has been an integral part of what Phoenix has accomplished this season. A deadly outside shooter with an underrated all around offensive game and rangy defender, he has given the Suns everything the needed from a wing to complement their All-star backcourt and young behemoth in the middle.

But while he made hay while the Suns shined in the sweep of the Nuggets, Bridges was subdued against the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, and then noticeably timid in the hard fought series with the Clippers. The svelte swingman stopped looking for his outside shot, and was consistently outmuscled and outhustled on defence, to the point where Torrey Craig was preferred down the stretch against Paul George and the Clippers. With all due deference to Craig, that's like having your husband replace you with Camilla Parker Bowles.

While Khris Middleton, his ostensible opposite number, is probably a better match up for Bridges - Middleton preferring the fadeaway to the push-off-drive - it's also conceivable that Monty Williams may opt to put the bigger Jae Crowder on Khash instead, as it is physicality more than length that tends to worry the Bucks' sharpshooter (TWSS). A lot will depend on Giannis' health in that regard.

Either way, the Suns could use a more confident Bridges under the bright lights of the Finals. Otherwise, more playing time beckons for the likes of Craig and Cam Johnson.


C P 3?

No, not another ode to the point god. C P 3 is shorthand for... can Phoenix prevent the 3-ball?

Phoenix, in one of those under-appreciated skills that often accompanies winning, has done an excellent job all season long in denying the three point shot, up to and including against the record-breaking hot-shooting Clippers (33% against the Suns as compared to 41% across the season).

Intriguingly, the three point shot, usually a strength of Milwaukee's, has become something of an Achilles heel in these playoffs. The Bucks, the fifth best shooting team in the regular season (39%), have shot a frigid 31% overall from the perimeter during the playoffs, making their continued advancement thus far something of a minor miracle. They've been colder than Primetime Pricey on a July losing streak.

Does the law of averages suggest that the Bucks are well overdue to catch fire at some point? Or will the Suns continue to be tighter than peternorth 's pay-grade scheme for lowly preview writers?



Magic Numbers (this section is not endorsed by the Orlando lottery representatives)


0
- The number of superteams in these finals. Also the number of L.A. teams in these Finals. We are happy. The basketball media and peternorth are not so happy.

1 - The number of championships these two teams have won. Combined.

2 - The number of Morris twins the Suns have eliminated en route to the Finals. The number of court appearances the Morrii make this year will probably exceed that total though.

4 - The number of seasons these two teams paid Brandon Knight to play point guard for them. Somehow they didn't reach the Finals in any of those seasons.

8 - The number of Antetokounmpo brothers Milwaukee will sign to basketball contracts if Giannis leads them to a championship.

12 - The number worn by Torrey Craig. Also possibly the total number of 'cash considerations' the Bucks received from Phoenix for his services.

28 - The number of years since the Suns last graced the Finals. Robert Horry likes this.

47 - The number of years since the Bucks last graced the Finals. Dick Bavetta and David Stern like this.

63 - The number of wins the Suns have posted this season alone. Look2Me4Guidance has calculated this beats their aggregate 2015-2019 total.

68 - As in 1968, the year these two franchises joined the NBA together. Westy Bogan may have been there for the 1969 coin toss which landed the Bucks Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

72 - The combined ages of Chris Paul and P.J. Tucker. All the rest of us middle-aged dad bods must be doing something wrong.

999 - The return on investment for every dollar you put on pre-season for a Milwaukee-Phoenix Finals. Hello to all our friends in the BigBetty thread.



Special Guest Previews


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BigFooty: Well, Woj - you must be pleased to see the good old Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals?

Woj: Sources tell ESPN that Woj is not particularly pleased at these turn of events.

BF: Why, what's wrong? Isn't it good to see some new teams achieving success?

Woj: Sources tell ESPN that Woj is frozen out in Milwaukee. No exclusives forthcoming. According to reports, Woj is less popular in Milwaukee than a black man in police custody.

BF: Oh right, the Bogdanovic thing. Well, let's stick to the on court stuff, shall we? Who do you favour in this match-up, and why?

Woj: Insiders have revealed to ESPN that Woj doesn't actually do the basketball thing. He just reports on it.

BF: It is puzzling now that I think about it. We asked ESPN to send us an expert, or as a last resort Mark Jackson. Why did they send you?

Woj: One un-named executive has told ESPN that "The ESPN office chemistry currently stinks worse than Chris Broussard's reporting".

BF: Gotcha, the Rachel Nicholls thing. I believe you had some strong words on that controversy?

Woj: Latest reports have indicated to ESPN that a senior, fearless reporter has rebuked Nicholls for "not being a team player"

BF: Hmmm, but didn't you insist a bunch of people be fired before you returned to ESPN?

Woj: Sources have little to say to ESPN about that. And now sources tell me that ESPN needs to go and start preparing for the Draft. Picks don't just spoil announce themselves.

BF: Hang on, I think we've got a scoop here! Is it fair to say that we've uncovered evidence that ESPN's senior reporter is something of a hypocrite?

Woj: ..... not if I say that I've uncovered it first. Another exclusive for ESPN! So long, suckers.





BF: Eric, Bled... you must be ecstatic to see two of your former teams doing so well?

EB: Well kinda, but... I'm not involved, you know?

BF: Hmmm, must be pure coincidence that you're not the point guard on a Finals-bound team. On that theme, how to you see the point guard match-up going?

EB: I'm sorry, what?

BF: How do you see the point guard match-up going? I thought it was a pretty simple question?

EB: Oh yeah, sorry, I guess I just wasn't paying attention or something.

BF: Now why does that sound familiar?

EB: Sorry, that's my phone ringing. Oh, it's LeBron. He's telling me that Rich Paul says not to talk to you. Something about contract leverage, 2022.

BF: Oh really? Did he happen to mention which city you'll be living in next season?

EB: No. I live in New Orleans.

BF: Yes, I know, I know.

EB: You sound depressed, bruh.

BF: Oh it's nothing, forget it. So who do you hope wins, Bled?

EB: I don't care.

BF: That's kinda shocking. Surely you still have some friends left on the Bucks, and in both cities in general?

EB: Oh yeah, I meant to say I hope both teams do well. I was just saying 'I don't care' to my girlfriend. She was asking me about her hairstyle.

BF: Good to know that on court is not the only place you exude indifference. Can you give us any information about the Bucks or Suns?

EB: Not really. To be honest, I don't wanna be here.

BF: That's OK. To be honest we just needed a prominent ex Buck and Sun for neutrality, and Tim Thomas wasn't available.



Bonus Trivia


Q: Can you name the recent former Bucks coach who was a prominent ex-Phoenix player? And who may or may not have a police record?

A: Jason Kidd


Q: Which smooth shooting guard played in both Milwaukee green and Phoenix orange, but went by another colour?

A: Michael Redd


Q: Which former Buck and Sun, a polished post scorer selected high in the 1987 Draft and nicknamed 'The Hammer', passed away in 2011?

A: Armen Gilliam


Q: A former Portland legend had unsuccessful coaching stints at both Phoenix and Milwaukee in the 21st century - do you know who he is?

A: Terry Porter


Q: I'm a diminutive former Suns and Bucks guard, best known for sporting the odd combination of goggles and knee high socks - can you name me?

A: Elliot 'Socks' Perry



Scores Ranking

5/5
- You're more cunning than Chris Paul with the opposition team over the foul limit. And you probably get paid more than me too.

4/5 - Despite not being an outright superstar, you get the job done more often than not. I christen you the Khris Middleton of trivia.

3/5 - You get some things right, and you can paid a middling salary accordingly. You're Jae Crowder's spirit animal.

2/5 - You skate by in the regular season, but in the playoffs you get found out. Say hello, Dario Saric.

1/5 - You may post on this board, but only by the grace of others. And you're probably on a min contract, like me. You're Thanasis Antetokounmpo.

0/5 - You're only here by administrative error. You're Mirza Teletovic's dead salary.
 
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