After over six months of non-stop basketball, the 2021 NBA Finals are finally here. Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns will tip-off late on Tuesday night.
Both teams have proven to be among the league’s elite this season, but have taken drastically different paths into the NBA Finals. The hobbled Bucks have battled through the Eastern Conference with their backs often against the wall, while the Suns have dominated short-handed opponents in the West to get 36-year-old Chris Paul into his first championship series.
With just a few hours to go until until tip-off, the ESPN computer has released a prediction for tonight’s game.
The ESPN Basketball Power Index has given the Suns a 56.8 percent chance to take Game 1 on their home floor on Tuesday. The short-handed Bucks will come into the series opener as 5.5-point underdogs on the road.
Milwaukee enter the NBA Finals as the surprising underdogs after Giannis Antetokounmpo suffered a hyperextended knee in the Bucks last series against the Atlanta Hawks. The two-time MVP was upgraded to questionable for Game 1, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to give it a go. Regardless, the Bucks will need to rely heavily on Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, who both stepped up in a major way in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Suns will turn to their backcourt, made up of Paul and two-time All Star Devin Booker to carry the load throughout the series. Both players have had their setbacks during the playoffs but have recovered just in time to be full-strength for the NBA Finals. Phoenix’s role players have provided key contributions throughout the postseason and will need to keep doing so if the organization wants to win its first title.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Bucks and the Suns will tip-off at 9 p.m. ET and air on ESPN.