The Bucks defeated the Atlanta Hawks and are making their first trip to the NBA Finals since 1974.
Perhaps it is fitting, and potentially a means to an end, that the Suns will face the Bucks. Both franchises entered the National Basketball Association at the same time, joining the league as expansion teams together in 1968.
The Suns posted an inaugural season record of 16-66, worst in the NBA. But back in ‘68, rather than conducting an NBA Lottery, the league had a different way of choosing the top pick: a coin flip between the worst team in the Western Conference and the worst team in the Eastern Conference. The least in the east that year was the Bucks.
The Suns lost a coin flip on March 19, 1969 to the Milwaukee Bucks. Who did the Bucks take at number one? Lew Alcindor...Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Phoenix ended up with Neal Walk, the hairiest man to ever play basketball.
Abdul-Jabbar led the Bucks to their first and only championship in 1971 as they swept the Baltimore Bullets in the NBA Finals. Kareem would lead Milwaukee to the Finals again in 1974, only to lose in seven games to John Havlicek and the Boston Celtics (because they were in the Western Conference then...they started in the East for two seasons, then the West for nine years, and then back to the East. Like the Brewers, their conference alignment has always been weird).
If you think we have been waiting for a long time to get back to the Finals, Milwaukee has waited longer. That 1974 appearance was the last time they played for a title. Abdul-Jabbar forced a trade to the Lakers that offseason and the rest is history. Their franchise has waited 47 years to get back.
During the 2020-21 regular season the Phoenix Suns defeated the Milwaukee Bucks twice, winning by one point on both occasions. In recent years, the Suns are 5-1 versus Milwaukee in games in which Deandre Ayton has played.
The first matchup was on February 10 in Phoenix as the Suns, led by 30 points from Devin Booker and 28 points from Chris Paul, survived a 47 point effort by Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was 17-of-21 from the line in that game as the Suns won 125-124.
Their second matchup occurred on April 19 and the Suns used a balanced attack to defeat the Bucks in overtime, 128-127. Four Suns’ starters scored 20+ points and you may recall Devin Booker being fouled by P.J. Tucker with 0.3 seconds left on the clock, putting him on the line, and allowing the Suns to leave town with the victory.
The question around Antetokounmpo’s health is the number one question entering this NBA Finals following his hyperextension of his left knee in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Atlanta Hawks. He did not play again in the series.
The injury looked bad. Okay, who am I kidding? It looked gruesome as hell.
Much akin to Kawhi Leonard’s status throughout the Western Conference Finals, we are not exactly sure how bad Giannis’ injury is or if he will see the court during the series. The competitive advantage of not informing the competition of the true severity of an injury is still a thing it appears.
For a better understanding of how exactly he was injured, watch the video below. If you can stomach it.
If the former two-time MVP can’t go for the series, it will be interesting to see how the Bucks make up for his absence. Brook Lopez has held down the center position the majority of the year and filled in nicely with Antetokounmpo out in the Eastern Conference Finals.
There you have it, folks. The Bucks are looking for their second title. The Suns are looking for their first. Perhaps this is the chance to finally make up for that coin-flip all of those years ago. To realign the universe. To take one of those reset charges from the Disney series Loki and realign our fate. After all, this is the team that began #TheTimeline.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Tuesday, July 6 at 6:00pm at Phoenix Suns Arena.