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Game Preview: Shorthanded Suns travel to Milwaukee for Finals Rematch

Phoenix already got their revenge earlier this season, but this time round 2 will look much different.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (51-12) vs Milwaukee Bucks (39-25)

When: 1:30 PM AZ time

Where: Footprint Center

Watch: ABC, Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM

The Line: The spread is currently listed at Suns +7.5 points on Draft Kings Sportsbook.


The Phoenix Suns are fresh off the thrilling Cam Johson game-winner against the Knicks, and will look to carry some of that momentum over to this contest. They will do so even more short-handed than they already were, with Cam Johnson joining Paul and Booker on the inactive list.

Johnson has been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Bucks due to a right quadriceps contusion according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Considering he just dropped a career-high 38 points, it’s not ideal timing for him to miss time.

The last time these two teams met the Suns handed it to Milwaukee, 131-107. Ayton put Giannis on a poster, another Mikal meme was born, and the Suns’ size overwhelmed the Bucks.

This will be a much different matchup for several reasons.

Projected Starters

Phoenix Suns

  • Cam Payne
  • Landry Shamet
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • Deandre Ayton

Milwaukee Bucks

  • Jrue Holiday
  • Grayson Allen
  • Khris Middleton
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo
  • Bobby Portis

Injury Report

Phoenix

  • Chris Paul — OUT
  • Devin Booker — OUT
  • Cam Johnson — OUT
  • Frank Kaminsky — OUT
  • Dario Saric — OUT

Milwaukee

  • Brook Lopez — OUT
  • Wesley Matthews — OUT

What to Watch

  • Who will score for Phoenix?

Phoenix will be down three of their top five scorers, including Johson who carried the bulk of the offensive workload last game. They’re going to need Deandre Ayton to wake up and for Mikal Bridges to put together another solid game offensively without a doubt.

Payne and Shamet will also need to play at an elite level for Phoenix to have any shot in this one against a tough Bucks squad. A score by committee approach is what it will take to keep the Suns competitive, but realistically I believe they’re going to need that paired with a breakout game from someone in order to pull off the upset.

  • The Holiday brothers.

Jrue and Aaron going head-to-head will make for interesting television. Along with that, Milwaukee has former Phoenix Suns guard Jevon Carter on their roster now. I would imagine that (Aaron) Holiday will see both of them throughout the game.

Holiday is essentially in last year’s Jevon Carter role, so that matchup should be noteworthy and filled with pestering pressure defense for 94 feet.

  • Ayton feast? + Bigs Rotation

The Suns desperately need a vintage Ayton performance on both ends for them remain competitive against this Milwaukee team. Not only does he need to show up offensively to offset the loss of their top scorers, but he needs to find a way to contain Giannis and stay out of foul trouble.

Having JaVale, Bismack, Craig and Crowder at their disposal along with Ayton gives them plenty of bodies to throw at him, a luxury they did not have in the NBA Finals.

My Prediction

Bucks win 117-106. I’m sorry, they are just far too shorthanded here and the Bucks will want revenge from the first game beatdown in Phoenix.


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