NBA preview

NBA Finals: Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns vying it out for glory

The NBA Finals have begun, and it promises to be a thrilling series between the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Phoenix Suns. But how will things unfold? In this preview, we will look at the series, give the lowdown on the key battles, and pick a potential winner. We will also check in on the latest match odds.

Chris Paul begins with a flourish as Phoenix Suns coast to Game 1 win

Chris Paul was always going to have his say over the series. And he produced a sparkling display on the floor in Game 1, as he exploded for 16 points in the third quarter. By the end of the game, he had notched up 32 points, as the Suns roared to a 118-105 victory in their first Finals game since 1993.

Paul was well-supported by fellow Finals debutants Devin Booker, who grabbed 27 points, while Deandre Ayton claimed a game-high 19 rebounds. At times, it was all a bit too easy for Paul and co who made the same reads they had done for most of the regular season. The Suns settled into a rhythm very quickly, and the Bucks paid the price.

Chris Paul emulates Michael Jordan during Game 1

Paul has been firing on all cylinders during the NBA Playoffs. The ‘Point of God’ joined elite company in during the Game 1 win over the Bucks. Paul drained 32 points, he became the first player to shoot over 30 points, as well as supply eight assists on Finals debut since Michael Jordan in 1991. Paul’s ability to take games away from teams is remarkable.

DeAndre Ayton reveals ‘candid conversations’ inspired Game 1 win for the Suns

Clearly, there is a strong bond in the Suns camp, and perhaps what is striking, is how Paul, Booker, and Ayton have managed to work effectively together. Indeed, Ayton revealed that by talking through issues, the Suns were able to rip it up against the Bucks. He said: “Candid conversations lead to wins, and it started to be great communication and constructive criticism.”

Dario Saric set to miss rest of the NBA Finals series for Phoenix Suns

The Suns were left reeling after discovering Dario Saric tore his ACL in his right knee in Game 1. After colliding with Bucks centre Brook Lopez in the first quarter, Saric’s right knee seemed to make way when he planted his feet in the paint. It has been confirmed that Saric will be out indefinitely, and Suns coach Monty Williams admitted the incident was “heartbreaking”.

Giannis Antetokounmpo gives Milwaukee Bucks hope in the series

After missing two games in the Eastern Conferences finals with a hyperextended knee, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence was sorely felt. Although he isn’t quite 100% fit, the two-time league MVP (Most Valued Player) served notice that he will still have a big role to play in the NBA Finals. Although he was on the losing side in Game 1, Giannis had an impact.

Giannis weighed in with 20 points, 17 rebounds, and four assists. Although he was pictured rested during timeouts, and with a towel over his head, he came through Game 1 unscathed. The Bucks will have to regroup before Friday’s tip-off, but it seemed that Giannis still has plenty to offer.

Heading into the finals, Giannis was averaging 28.2 points, and 12.7 rebounds in the post season. While there has been a huge interest over Giannis’ health, he has tried to deflect attention away from his knee, and is solely focussed on helping the Bucks win their first NBA title since 1971.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has to switch up defensive tactics for Game 2

The Bucks struggled to contain Paul and Booker in Game 1. Perhaps one reason for that was the pick-and-roll ploy used by Lopez to try to protect the rim. But Paul and Booker are adept at the mid-range jump shot, and the Bucks had no answers for that. Instead, the Bucks should consider drop coverage, which has served them well over the past few seasons.

Lopez thought he could guard Booker on the switch, as he tried to create a mismatch, but it didn’t work. Budenholzer doesn’t need to make drastic changes or completely tear up his game plan, but he needs to make small tweaks to give the Bucks a chance in Game 2 or the Suns could run riot again.

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