It’s an encounter that almost no one could have predicted at the start of the season. Chris Paul (Soli) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) both deserve a first championship, although only one will take the prize.
Individual player encounters always play an absolutely critical role in determining the winners of such series.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be up against the Phoenix Suns
Game 1 victory is crucial to this series and the Milwaukee Bucks are looking to steal a win on the Phoenix Suns home court.
Unfortunately for the Bucks, Antetokounmpo remains doubtful for the first game of the 2021 NBA Finals. The Greek Freak hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals and has not been in action since. I’ll try to play it Tuesday, but it all depends on how you hold your knee on the morning of the series opener.
His absence will be advantageous for the Phoenix Suns, who come into the series in better health than their opponent.
With Antetokounmpo sidelined, other player battles will take center stage and could be the deciding factor for Game 1. Here, we look at three key player battles that could ultimately decide the winner.
# 1 Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns) vs Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks)
Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns will go head-to-head with one of the league’s best defensive guards. After facing it Patrick Beverley for tackles during the Western Conference Finals, Paul will face a bigger and stronger opponent in the Milwaukee Bucks ’Jrue Holiday.
This battle of veteran guards is almost a uniform encounter. Paul turned the clock back against the LA Clippers in the Western Conference Finals when he averaged 24.0 points, 8.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Meanwhile, Holiday had a stellar ECF with an average of 22.0 points, 10.0 assists, 5.0 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game.
They’re both excellent defenders and will almost certainly cancel out when they meet in Game 1. Paul will have the Phoenix Suns crowd behind him, so expect him to have a slight advantage over his Milwaukee Bucks counterpart.