- Title Wave – NBA Eastern Conference Finals Preview - May 17, 2023
- Easter Conference Semifinals Preview- The Wounded Hunt - May 1, 2023
- Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview – High Rising Stock - April 29, 2023
This has been one of the most tumultuous NBA playoffs we’ve seen in awhile. The injuries have piled up and that trend didn’t stop during the Conference Finals. The result so far is one of the most interesting and entertaining post-seasons we have seen in any sport.
Now, it’s the Phoenix Suns verses the Milwaukee Bucks for ultimate basketball supremacy. The Suns have returned to the NBA Finals after a 28-year hiatus while the Bucks have finally pushed through to the Finals after years of being considered just a top contender.
A new NBA champion will be crowned and this should have all the drama of a great NBA Finals.
Keys To The Game
The status of Giannis Antetokounmpo is still up in the air. He was leading the Bucks in scoring (28.2 per game) during the playoffs until hyper-extended his knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bucks will have to squeeze out every bit of their offense if he can’t go.
With that being said, the Bucks have options that can provide scoring. Jrue Holiday scored a combined 52 points in games five and six of the Eastern Conference Finals. He will have to continue to keep his scoring in the mid 20s and put pressure on the Suns guards.
Kris Middleton will need to score even more than the 23.4 points per game he averaged during the playoffs. He’s upped that average to 29.0 in the two games without Antetokounmpo and will get the most attention from the Suns defense. He has to continue to pour it on and provide a steady scoring hand for the Bucks.
Milwaukee best attribute has to be offensive rebounding. Their ability to control the offensive glass gives them a bunch of second-chance points. The extra possessions will also wear out the defense and potentially cause the Suns to get in foul trouble.
The defense will have their hands full with the Suns backcourt but they’ll have to keep the other players at bay. If the Bucks can keep the Suns’ role players uncomfortable, it will go a long way to disrupting their free flowing offense.
The Chris Paul and Devin Booker combination is averaging 45.1 points per game during the playoffs. They’ll need to up that a bit and pressure the Bucks guards to defend them. When they start to get hot, the Suns offense can become overwhelming at times.
DeAndre Ayton is the only Suns player averaging a double-double in the postseason. It’s imperative for him to continue to score in the high teens and get easy out backs on the inside. If he can be active on the boards and defensively box out, it will help keep Milwaukee off the offensive glass.
Phoenix does a great job when they get right into their offense. They get good looks when they make early decisions in the shot clock and they’re great passing usually leads to an open offensive player.
Defensively, the Suns really can’t afford to let Middleton kill them with his offense. They should consider doubling Middleton and daring any other player in a Bucks uniform to score.
Phoenix has had trouble with players driving to the basket and creating offense. They’ll have to limit Milwaukee’s drives to the basket by good help defense and stay away from errant fouls.
There’s no player to even think about here other than Chris Paul. This is his time to shine and firmly plant himself with the immortals of NBA history.
Brook Lopez is a former All-Star and has ability to post (as we saw in Game 5 versus Atlanta). He’s gonna have to contribute with some timely points inside the paint and continue to out battle the Suns big men for rebounds.
Prediction: Phoenix wins the series 4-2