The 2021 NBA Finals — the Bucks and Suns


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

In spring 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks (46-26) coached by Mike Bodenholzer with executive Jon Hurst met the Phoenix Suns (51-21) coached by Monty Williams with executive James Jones in the NBA finals.

Milwaukee got past the Miami Heat 4-0, the Brooklyn Nets 4-3 and the Atlanta Hawks 4-2 to get to the finals. They were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo (28.1 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 5.9 apg), Khris Middleton (20.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.4 apg), Jrue Holiday (17.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 6.1 apg), Elijah Bryant (16.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg), Donte DiVincenzo (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Brook Lopez (12.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Bryn Forbes (10.0 ppg).

The Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 4-2, the Denver Nuggets 4-0 and the Los Angeles Clippers 4-2 to get to the championship series. They were led by Devin Booker (25.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.3 apg), Mikal Bridges (13.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Chris Paul (16.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Deandre Ayton (14.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg) and Jae Crowder (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg).

Game one was in Phoenix Suns Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. Behind the support of the home court crowd, the Suns took a 1-0 lead in the series with a 118-105 win in which they led throughout most of the game.

They were led by Devin Booker with 27 points and 6 assists, Deandre Ayton with 22 points and 19 rebounds and Chris Paul with 32 points and 9 assists. The Bucks were paced by Khris Middleton with 29 points and 7 rebounds, Jrue Holiday with 10 assists and Giannis Antetokounmpo with 20 points and 17 rebounds.

Game two was closer but the Suns outscored the Bucks 30-16 in the second quarter to provide the margin for a 118-108 win and 2-0 lead in the series. The Suns were led by Devin Booker with 31 points and 6 assists, Chris Paul with 21 points and 8 assists and Mikal Bridges with 27 points and 7 rebounds while Giannis led the Bucks with 42 points and 12 rebounds.

For game three, the teams switched to Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the Bucks rallied behind a 35-17 second quarter to go on to a 120-100 win behind 41 points and 13 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo and 21 points and 9 rebounds from Jrue Holiday.

For the Suns, Devin Booker was only 3 for 14 from the field and 1 for 7 from the three point line but Chris Paul had 19 points and 9 assists and Deandre Ayton had 18 points and 9 rebounds.

In game four, Phoenix led 82-76 after three quarters. In the closest game up to that point, they could not hold on in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee won 109-103 to even the series at two games each.

Devin Booker got out of his slump with 42 points and Deandre Ayton had 17 rebounds for the Suns while Giannis added 26 points, 14 rebounds and 8 assists and Khris Middleton had 40 points for the Bucks.

In another close game in Phoenix, the Bucks rallied in the fourth quarter for a 123-119 win and 3-2 lead in the series paced by Giannis’ 32 points and 9 rebounds. Khris Middleton added 29 points and Jrue Holiday had 27 points and 13 assists. For the Suns Devin Booker had 40 points and Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Back in Milwaukee, the Bucks were in search of a title and behind 50 points and 14 rebounds from Giannis Antetokounmpo they achieved their goal with a 105-98 win. The Suns, who have never won an NBA title, were led by Chris Paul with 26 points and Jae Crower with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Neither team has been back to the finals since 2021. Giannis got the series MVP and shares with Mike Krzyzewski the distinction of having one of the most difficult names among basketball players/coaches to spell.

For the Bucks it was their first title since 1971 when Oscar Robertson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were their stars.

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