There are plenty of potential storylines and stats available with this year’s NBA Finals. Regardless of who’s picked as the favorite, it’s hard to miss something intriguing with both the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Tied together since the start
Both teams have always been somewhat connected with each other ever since they joined the league. The Suns and Bucks were expansion teams for the NBA in 1968. The teams even had a coin flip to determine who’d get the draft’s number one pick. The Bucks would win, drafting all-time NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was still going by Lew Alcindor at the time. The Suns, drafting second, would pick Neal Walk who’d go on to have a decent career with the team.
This Finals series also has several significant numbers in terms of experience. Chris Paul will stop climbing the playoff games without a Finals appearance list, staying put at third with 123. The most is Paul Millsap with 129 games played in the playoffs. Paul would also tie Dwight Howard and Gary Payton for seasons played without a title win at 16 seasons. Both teams also have the second-smallest amount of Finals experience, with only 6 games between the two. Those 6 come from Jae Crowder, who played on the Miami Heat last season.
This will be the second time that there’s been a pair of brothers playing in the NBA Finals, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo paying for the Bucks. The last pair was Al and Dick McGuire in 1952 and 53 when the New York Knicks made the Finals. On that subject, multiple players have family members who have actually gotten a chance at the Finals before them. The third Antetokounmpo brother, Kostas, won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. Justin Holiday, brother to Bucks player Jrue Holiday, played a game with the Golden State Warriors during the Finals in 2015.
There are, in fact, former college teammates on both teams. Donte DiVincenzo from the Bucks and Mikal Bridges from the Suns played for Villanova during their college years, winning the 2016 and 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball titles. DiVincenzo is out of the playoffs with an injury, but the connection still holds some significance.
Standouts from Title history
Phoenix could become the third team to win the NBA title after missing the playoffs the previous year. The last teams to do so were the 2007-08 Boston Celtics and 2019-20 Los Angeles Lakers. They’d also be the 20th team to win their first NBA title.
While this may not mean as much, it’s intriguing to see how the last NBA finals in five-year intervals have gone. As pointed out by ESPN, the Finals since 2006 have produced first-time winners every five years. In 2006, it was the Miami Heat who won their first title over the Dallas Mavericks. 2011 saw the Mavericks exact their revenge with their own first NBA Title. 2016 saw the break in the dominance of the Golden State Warriors, as they’d lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Regardless of whether it’s Phoenix or Milwaukee, both teams seem to deserve a title for their cities after how their history has gone. This NBA season has been through all sorts of ups and downs, with plenty of surprises and injuries altering the courses of teams’ paths. New names will be written in the books as Finals winners, and it’s going to be a treat no matter what.