The 2021 NBA Finals matchup has been set. As the Phoenix Suns will face the Milwaukee Bucks in a best-of-seven beginning on Tuesday in Phoenix.
The Bucks finally dispatched of the young, gritty, and upstart Hawks in six games to advance to their first NBA Finals since 1974. Yup, it’s been 47 years since “Cream City” played for it all.
The Phoenix Suns punched their ticket by advancing past the LA Clippers in six games as well.
During the regular season, the Suns and Bucks played two thrillers (125-124) in Milwaukee and (128-127) in the “Valley of the Sun.” Both won by the Suns.
Milwaukee has been without 2-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo since he hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 of the conference finals in Atlanta. Both teams are making their third trip to the finals.
The Suns lost to Michael Jordan and the three-peat Bulls in 1993 and also fell to the Boston Celtics in the 1976 finals.
Bucks also lost to the Celtics in the 1974 finals but beat the Baltimore Bullets in the 1971 finals.
Phoenix and Milwaukee each entered the NBA in 1968, as expansion franchises. The Suns lost a coin flip to the Bucks for the top pick in the 1969 NBA Draft.
With that pick, Milwaukee chose Lew Alcindor, who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, first overall out of UCLA. While Phoenix uses the second overall pick to take Neal Walk, a solid player and career (13 points and 8 rebound) played in NBA seasons, while also helping Phoenix secure its first ever playoff berth in 1970.
Abdul-Jabbar ended his Hall of Fame career as the NBA’s All-Time leader in points with over 38,000 — a record which still stands — and winner of six NBA titles, his first coming with Milwaukee and The Big O in 1971.
No matter how this series turns out, current Suns forward Torrey Craig will receive a ring either way as early on this season he was a member of the Bucks.
When this is over one of two of the most maligned and scrutinized players in the league will be able to hoist the Larry O’Brien.
Now, the question is, will it be Giannis or CP3?
Over the next two weeks we will find who had the grit and want to capture that elusive NBA title.
This is a tough one to pick as the health of the “Greek Freak,” will play a huge role in determining the winners at series end.
But make no mistake, whichever future Hall of Famer captures the title, his legacy will be better for it and he won’t endure the same post-career ridicule as Patrick Ewing or Charles Barkley.