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The 2021 NBA Playoff Predictions – Finals

You shouldn’t have picked the Hawks Dan, but you knew that. You can now concentrate on winning the SANFL, but everyone else is still in contention. Jarrod and Troy need a miracle, which would be to get the winner and games right and both Ash and I to pick the wrong team. But anything could happen with no clear cut favourite.

David Ashman, Jesse Cotton: 37
Jarrod Cotton: 30

Troy Goostrey: 29
Dan Kelly: 23

2 Phoenix Suns v 3 Milwaukee Bucks

David Ashman: So here we are at the pointy end of the season and I must say, I did not expect to have these two teams competing at the very end. It’s great to see two teams that have stayed true and built around a draft pick with both Booker and Giannis.

The Suns have been a revelation and I have picked them all through these finals, they haven’t done me wrong yet. The Bucks have also been great through some hard nosed defense and some great plays through Middleton, Lopez etc.

Should be a great series but like the Highlander movies, there can be only one. If Giannis is healthy then the Bucks can win this but I think he will struggle with the injury. The Suns can be proud of getting this far after beating some great teams in the West. Expect it to be a seven game series with the Suns prevailing in the end. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes just like a Eurovision song (sad but true), the Suns will win in 7.

Troy Goostrey: So who would have predicted this as the Finals series when the season started back in December!!??  Surely not many.  The Bucks have been around the mark the last couple of seasons and faltered in the Playoffs.  I think many had written them off because of this but they have finally played consistent ball through the Playoffs to make the big dance.  The health of Giannis will be key – without him they are still a rough chance but I can’t see them winning.  He’s too big a piece of their puzzle as a 2 time league MVP.  I think even if he does return, I’m not confident he’s fit.  Middleton has been streaky, plenty of solid games then the odd 3/17 or something thrown in for good measure.  I just can’t rely on him as option 1 consistently when Giannis is out.  The Bucks do present a different option than what Phoenix have really seen with shooters in every spot all the time.  But no Giannis, no Bucks silverware.

For Phoenix, I guess we got a glimpse of their improvement in the Orlando bubble last season.  However, going 8-0 there, who would have seen that lead to a Finals berth the following season!? There is an aura of fairytale about this team though – the core built internally with Booker, Bridges and Ayton, adding CP3 (when no one really gave him much hope of returning to the near-MVP he was, let alone a title leader) and the experienced Crowder tipped them over the edge – by the looks.  Three keys for the Suns – Ayton will be taken well out of his comfort zone guarding the 3-ball from Lopez and it might play on his mind down the offensive end too, so how he handles that is key.  Then second, they need to still keep the lane clogged despite the shooters, if they do it will limit Giannis driving to the rim and being so effective.  Let the Bucks live and die by the jumper.  Third, surely CP3 doesn’t get Finals stage fright after all these years waiting for his chance – but we just don’t know.  He is the key here and if we can work those screen and rolls and get to his elbow spot to command the offence, the Suns walk away with rings.  If not, they need to hope this is the start of the dynasty and they return again next season.

For me, the fairytale will be real, CP3 gets his title here.  Suns in 6.

(By the way, not one player in the series is a championship winner yet.  However Torrey Craig will be eligible for a ring regardless since he started the year with the Bucks before being sent to Phoenix for cash.  So technically he has a ring regardless, although I suspect would only accept it with a PHX win)

Dan Kelly: Must say, although an injury riddled playoffs, I have quite enjoyed seeing some different teams go at it this year and my stress is now over considering the Clippers and Nets are out. Looking forward to the finals, would be happy for the Suns or Bucks to win it.

Still not quite sure how good the Suns are considering the road to the finals has seemed more of last man standing with all the injuries, but I do think that series win of the Clippers gave them some more cred. Clippers did a good job on Booker, I think the Suns are going to need more from him offensively to win it all. Then to the Bucks. As much as I have been backing the Hawks for Jesse, I wouldn’t say it has exactly been the hardest road to the finals. Middleton has stepped up and played some big games and they will need every bit of that to get over the Suns.

My prediction hinges on the fitness of Giannis and how long he may be out for, can Middleton/Holiday hold the fort until he returns? If Giannis can be there for a large chuck of the series I have the Bucks, if not it is the Suns series to lose. I am guessing that Giannis will miss the first 1 or 2 games and the Bucks to get at least one of the games in the Valley. Lakers in 5 (Bucks in 7).

Finals MVP Middleton.

Best Playoff Injured Teams:

West = Murray, Conley, Lebron, Kawhi, AD
East = Kyrie, Brown, Harden, Giannis, Embiid. Notable players just missing out, not counting CP3 Covid and Trae didn’t miss enough games to make the cut.

Jarrod Cotton: Milwaukee has stumbled in the last few years, something most good teams do before they finally break through. Battle hardened which seems opposite to Phoenix. The young team, new to playoffs let alone the finals. Everything is telling me to pick the Bucks except the elephant in the room whose name is Chris Paul. I think his experience and overall control of this series will be the difference. Suns in 7.

Jesse Cotton: For the Bucks, it all comes down to the health of Giannis. Middleton can get you buckets, but he generally does it all in the same quarter. Holiday has either a great offensive game or a great defensive game, take your pick. Lopez will give you any 2, but only 2, of the following: finishing lobs, post-up moves, midrange shots, 3 point bombs, rim protection and bad defense. You’ll get the one crazy eyes game, but anything you get out of anyone else like Connaughton, Forbes or Teague is a bonus.

For the Suns, they played the Lakers missing AD, Denver missing Murray and the Clippers missing Kawhi. How good are they? I have no real idea. But CP3 has already been out with covid and hurt his shoulder and he’s still going, so his grim reaper of injuries in the playoffs seems to have already tried and failed. Ayton is a bit of an unknown, but he will definitely outrebound Lopez, and he showed that he can hang with teams who go small and shoot 3s (like the Clippers did) in a way that Gobert could not.

Without Giannis, putting Jrue on CP3 and Khris on Booker would be asking too much of them on both ends, so I would expect one of those two Suns to go off and get Finals MVP. With Giannis, the Bucks have the best player in the series and a terrible matchup for the Suns. I think he plays game 2 at 60%, but the Bucks go down 2-0 in Phoenix. The Bucks even it in Milwaukee to make it a best of 3, and the series ends…um…Bucks in 7 

“Finally! Philly let me down, I should’ve had 3 of the 4 conference finalists” – Greg Monroe
“Scoff. I DID have for 3 of the 4 conference finalists” – Eric Bledsoe
“Scoff. I’ve played for all 4” – Danny Manning
“Scoff. None of you have even been to the Finals. I won two titles” – Craig Hodges
“Scoff. I won THREE titles” – Scott Williams
“Scoff. Yeah, YOU guys won those titles. I bet you’ve never (sort of) been on both teams and never played for either” – Bogdan Bogdanovic
“Scoff. I’ve been on both teams and still on one of them this year” – PJ Tucker
“Scoff. I’ve been on BOTH of them this year” – Torrey Craig
“Scoff. That’s because you were traded for cash, at least I was traded for Charles Barkley” – Andrew Lang
“Scoff. So was I, YOU were also traded for Christian Laettner” – Sam Cassell

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