Didn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo suffer a knee injury in the Eastern Conference Finals? And it kept him out of the final two games of that series? Is that right? It is? Okay. I guess that’s why his nickname is the “Greek Freak”.
3. Milwaukee Bucks vs. 2. Phoenix Suns
This is what was expected of the Bucks for the last three seasons now. Getting to the Finals. Now that they’ve made it they must prove their worth. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been stellar for them, but has had moments where you wonder where he went in the playoffs this year. Unfortunately he suffered a knee sprain during the Conference Finals and might not be available for most of the Finals. This leaves Khris Middleton as the go-to scorer for the Bucks. He wasn’t afraid to take charge when Giannis went down and that needs to continue. Jrue Holiday has been exactly what the Bucks needed in the backcourt. A staunch defender and a solid facilitator on offense. Brook Lopez stepped up in the frontcourt to help get Milwaukee out of the Eastern Conference. If the likes of Bobby Portis and P.J. Tucker step up into a more prominent role this could be the Bucks first title since 1971 with the likes of Lou Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar).
Phoenix was close to clinching a spot in the playoffs last year playing in the bubble in Orlando. It should be no surprise that they are at this point. Aside from acquiring Chris Paul, this is the same team from last year. With Paul aboard it left room for Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to blossom into superstars before our eyes. No one has figured out how to shutdown or even slowdown Booker yet. Ayton hasn’t had a real challenge in the paint. Mikal Bridges has become a reliable scoring option when Booker and Ayton need a break. Paul getting to his first Finals appearance is well deserved and if he should win it would be a fitting notch to his Hall of Fame career. Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne have been valuable parts of a deep rotation in the desert. If Jae Crowder doesn’t have to worry about guarding Giannis much, this would help the Suns immensely. This could be the year they finally cash in after a tremendous season.
Players to Watch: F Khris Middleton and G Devin Booker
Who Wins: Bucks in 6 games
* – indicates playoffs
MVP – G Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks
Rookie – G Anthony Edwards – Minnesota Timberwolves
Coach – Lloyd Pierce – Atlanta Hawks
Defensive Player – C Bam Adebayo – Miami Heat
Most Improved – G Markelle Fultz – Orlando Magic
Sixth Man – F Montrez Harrell – Los Angeles Lakers
Executive – Travis Schlenk – Atlanta Hawks
Well, you could make the case that it was meant to be when the Los Angeles Lakers made it to the Conference Finals with relative ease. On the other side the Miami Heat had an easy time until they got to the Conference Finals, but they certainly deserved to be in this position. If it was under normal circumstances, maybe Miami wouldn’t have made it this far and maybe the outcome would have been different. To me it doesn’t matter since the best team clearly was the Lakers.