The Phoenix Suns look like the fresher and younger squad through the first two games of the 2021 NBA Finals.
Monty Williams’ squad scored 118 points and have gotten to just about every (50-50) ball in both games.
The Milwaukee Bucks arrived in Phoenix off a hard fought six game series win over the surprising and upstart Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
2 down, 2 to go @CP3
— LeBron James (@KingJames) July 9, 2021
The series was tied at (2-2) and both superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Trae Young were actually hurt for Game 5, with Young returning for Game 6, but nowhere near as effective as he had been up to that point.
The Bucks won both games including a close out game in Atlanta to advance to the NBA Finals.
The NBA Finals is a cherished destination that the Bucks haven’t been to since 1974 and the Suns haven’t sniffed since 1993.
One would think the surprising appearance by Giannis right before the tip of Game 1 would’ve sent a jolt through the team.
For most of Game 1 it didn’t have that effect, although he played well, his teammates struggled with consistency on both ends.
The beginning of Game 2 looked to be a different story early on as the visiting Eastern Conference Champion Bucks came out with an extra gear and much more aggressive on both ends.
But they faltered later, despite Giannis going for 42 points, 12 rebound and 3 picture-perfect blocks.
The biggest deficiency for Milwaukee in Games 1 and 2 has been the play of Greek Freak’s wingmen (Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton) —two Olympians.
Holiday has been unbelievable on the defensive end guarding Paul and Booker and harassing them into some pretty paltry numbers when he’s their primary defender.
But he’s been awful shooting the ball, and you can see his confidence has waned a ton as he doesn’t even wanna take any shot beyond 10-12 feet.
As for Middleton, he was okay in the opener and kept the Bucks around until midway through the final stanza, but he needs to be better.
We’re talking about two max contract guys not doing their part to help the 2X league MVP and 1x Defensive Player of the Year.
As far as the coaching goes, I’ve never been a big fan of Mike Budenholzer and he really struggles with in-game adjustments.
It’s very noticeable when his original plan meets a rebuttal, he has no clue what to do. Not gonna work when your opposing coach is Monty Williams.
Both are are from the Gregg Popovich tree, Monty as a player and Bud as an assistant. Plain and simple, he’s got to be at least on par with Monty who already has an advantage with Chris Paul who is basically another coach on the floor.
The Bucks led the league in scoring during the 2020-21 season and they ranked in the top 5 of offensive and defensive efficiency for the second consecutive season.
But they’ve had some very inexcusable offensive and defensive showings enroute to the Finals and now in the penultimate series. They shot 38% from three during the season, for fourth best in the league.
As often happens in the playoffs, has dipped to 31% in the playoffs and was even worse on Thursday night as they shot a very paltry 29% from deep.
Also the lack of defensive connectivity has been glaring for a team that was so stingy during the season and most of this playoff run.
Going home you always expect the role players to play better for the home and the road team’s role players usually don’t play as well, so if I’m the Bucks and I’m looking for something to hang my hat on that’s it.