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Preview: Suns face off against juggernaut Bucks

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Will the Suns keep this one close in Part 2 of Phoenix versus Milwaukee?

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns host the Milwaukee Bucks

When: 3:00 p.m. AZ

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


Probable Starters:

Suns - Ricky Rubio, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes

Bucks - Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews, Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez


Suns

OffRtg = 110.0 (16th), DefRtg = 110.9 (19th), NetRtg = minus-0.9 (15th)

Who expected Aron Baynes to explode for 37 (!?!?) points, including nine three-pointers? That had to be one of the most surprising developments of the season thus far. And honestly, it was so fun to watch Baynes catch absolute fire from deep. He even hit a step-back three on Damian Lillard.

Very doubtful we see an encore performance from Baynes, but he continues to be a player I believe the Suns should prioritize re-signing this offseason. Whether it’s on a one or two-year deal, Baynes’ leadership on and off the court has been a major benefit to this young roster in Phoenix.

So far this season, Baynes is averaging 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 36 percent on threes. Baynes seems like a beautiful fit within Monty Williams’ system, and his newly added floor-spacing element helps everyone out.

Out of the upcoming free agents this summer — Frank Kaminsky (team option), Cheick Diallo (team option), Elie Okobo (non-guaranteed), Jevon Carter (restricted), and Dario Saric (restricted — Baynes is by far the most valuable to their short-term success entering into the 2020-21 season.

Don’t look now everybody, but the Villanova version of Mikal Bridges is back. Over the last 14 games, Bridges is shooting 44.6 percent on threes, with no real sign of a hitch appearing often in his short form either. And since the beginning of February, Bridges has found a groove averaging 12.3 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 0.9 blocks while hitting shots from beyond the arc at a 42.9 percent clip.

If Bridges is able to maintain and improve upon this hot stretch heading into his third season, it’s going to change plenty for the Suns. Bridges is quickly becoming one of the most valuable 3-and-D pieces, especially with his perimeter shooting rounding back into form.

Bucks

OffRtg = 112.4 (T5th), DefRtg = 101.0 (1st), NetRtg = plus-11.4 (1st)

First up, will Giannis even play against the Suns? It was reported on Saturday by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Antetokounmpo was getting an MRI on his knee after a scary fall in Los Angeles. If Giannis can’t go, that changes everything for this matchup. However, I’m not going to assume the leading MVP candidate sits this one out.

Antetokounmpo is one of the most fun players to watch in the Association. For me personally, he’s right up there alongside Kawhi Leonard. Why? Just watch him play for five minutes. The numbers Giannis is putting up this year are absolutely ridiculous: 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1 steal, 1 block on 60.8 true shooting percentage.

By the way, if it wasn’t for the Suns trading up for Bridges on draft night, odds are very strong that Donte DiVincenzo would be Devin Booker’s backup right now.

Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough was smitten by DiVincenzo’s high-IQ play, including his own 3-and-D potential sprinkled in with combo guard playmaking. And with the Suns going after Luke Kennard at this year’s trade deadline, DiVincenzo definitely fits James Jones’ team-building vision as well.

Closing out this section, I wanted to poll our loyal readers on how good they believe this Bucks team is. Who would you pick right now to win this year’s NBA Finals? The Bucks or the field?

Poll

Who wins the NBA Finals this year?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Milwaukee Bucks
    (47 votes)
  • 68%
    The Field
    (102 votes)
149 votes total Vote Now

Prediction

Although the Suns surprised many with their blowout win against Portland on Friday, especially without Ayton and Oubre, I can’t see history repeating itself against the best team in the NBA. Milwaukee desperately wants to get the bad taste out of their mouth from losing against LeBron James and the Lakers.

This is a matchup where missing Ayton could be costly, although we saw already what Baynes can do when he’s hot from beyond the arc. The question is who in the world defends Giannis? Will it be Bridges, Baynes or maybe both? Either way, I don’t see anyone stopping the Greek Freak.

Thanks to a big outing from Antetokounmpo plus Middleton, who always seems to do well against the Suns, Milwaukee cruises to an easy double-digit win.

I will say this, though. If Giannis sits this one out do to precautionary reasons with his knee, I flip my prediction over to a surprise Suns win.

Bucks 123, Suns 110