The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns are looking forward to a much-anticipated title when they play their first NBA Finals game starting Tuesday.
The team that precedes its opponent to win four matches out of seven possible wins the league title.
Milwaukee won its only title in its history half a century ago, while Phoenix has not crowned it since he began playing in the professional league in 1968.
The 1971 title-winning Milwaukee Bucks, when legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led them to a victory over the Baltimore Bullets, reached the final for the first time since 1974.
The Greek Milwaukee star Yannis Antetokounmpo, the best player in the league in the past two seasons, reached the final for the first time after the disappointment of the “Playoff” in the last two editions.
The Bucks had achieved 60 victories compared to 22 losses in the 2018-2019 season in the regular league, and settled one of the series in the “Playoff” for the first time since 2001, reached the Eastern Region final, and advanced over the Toronto Raptors at the time 2-0, before losing the next four matches. And he comes out empty-handed in front of the team that later won the title.
Last season, Yannis led his team to a 56-17 loss, but he suffered an ankle injury to lose his team to Miami Heat in the second round of the “Playoff”.
Although the Bucks did not have the best regular-round record this season, they reached the final despite Antetokounmpo’s injury.
Antetokounmpo, the best player in the league in 2019 and 2020, missed his team’s last two games in the Eastern Conference final against the Atlanta Hawks (4-2) due to a left knee injury.
The 26-year-old Nigerian star was injured in the third quarter of the fourth game that Milwaukee lost 88-110 in Atlanta last Tuesday, as the latter managed to tie 2-2 in the Eastern Region Final Series, before the Bucks won the fifth and sixth games and reached the round League final for the first time since 1974.
Yannis scored an average of 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, and also received an effective contribution from his colleague Chris Milton with 23.4 points, 8 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
Bucks coach Mike Bodenholzer announced that he is assessing Antetokonmo’s injury “daily”, adding: “You have to listen to the player, then the sporting performance of the group, and at one point John Hurst and I (the Bucks general manager) are part of the conversation, but we are assessing the injury day in and day out. ».
We will update it when appropriate. The conversations between him and me, it’s kind of private and we’ll see his condition every day, if he’s on the bench for whatever reason, we should be able to play.” He added that he was impressed by Antetokounmpo’s enthusiasm and his leadership on the bench in the last two games against Atalanta.
“Seeing that leadership, that connection and that commitment from a player you knew who longed to be on the pitch – I loved his energy on the bench.”
On the other hand, the Suns star, Devin Booker, considered his team’s reaching the American League final as a “great story”, describing it as “a journey to a place I have not reached before.”
“It took a long time to get to this point, at the moment things are great, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Booker scored an average of 27 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game in these playoffs this season.
The Suns reached the final for the last time in 1993 when they lost to the Chicago Bulls led by legend Michael Jordan, after also losing the final in 1976 to the Boston Celtics.
The final round will be a unique opportunity for veteran Suns star Chris Paul, who will play for the first time in his 16-year career in the MLS.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of this (final round) throughout my career,” said Paul, who participated in the All-Star Game 11 times and was twice Olympic champion with his country.
Paul moved to the Suns last November from the Oklahoma City Thunder, and scored an average of 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
It is noteworthy that Phoenix outperformed Milwaukee in the two games that brought them together this season, and each time he won the match by one point.
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