The 2020-21 NBA season could officially come to a close Tuesday night.
The Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of clinching their second-ever NBA championship and will have the added advantage of getting the opportunity at home at Fiserv Forum, where they’ve dominated this post-season, sporting a 9-1 record thus far with a net rating of plus-13.3.
Of course, the Phoenix Suns will be looking to delay the celebrations for at least one more game and force a Game 7 back in the friendly confines of the Footprint Center on Thursday.
The Suns are capable of doing so, too. They’ve been among the most stellar road teams this entire post-season, sporting a positive net rating away from home, and will have to find some of that form in order to stay alive.
Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Suns and Bucks goes at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT on Sportsnet. Here are three things to keep in mind before you take in the game.
Giannis on the cusp of legend status already
Giannis Antetokounmpo has enjoyed one of the finest Finals series in recent memory, averaging 32.2 points, 13 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game while shooting 61.2 per cent from the floor.
Additionally, he’s gone off for a 40-point double-double in back-to-back games and has come up with two of the most memorable singular plays in Finals history that will be shown on replays from now until the end of time in his miraculous Game 4 block of Deandre Ayton’s alley-oop and his incredible alley-oop finish from a spectacular pass from Jrue Holiday in Game 5.
Should Antetokounmpo and the Bucks finish the job off Tuesday night it would mean the Greek superstar would have won two MVPs and a championship at just 26 years of age.
These accomplishments would put Antetokounmpo right in line with some of the game’s greatest players of all time, with likely plenty more to pad what’s already a surefire Hall of Fame resume.
If the Bucks finish things Tuesday night, Antetokounmpo should be talked about not just as a great player, but as one of the true modern legends of basketball.
Not bad for a kid whose humble beginnings started with him hawking watches and handbags with his brothers on the streets of Athens to help their family make ends meet.
Foreboding news for Paul, Suns
If you’re a Suns fan, you have our apologies, because referee Scott Foster will be the crew chief for Tuesday night’s Game 6.
Why is that a big deal, you might be asking?
Well, in the last 13 playoff games that a Chris Paul team has played with Foster officiating, those teams are a dismal 1-12, including Game 3’s 20-point Bucks blowout of the Suns in Milwaukee that saw Antetokounmpo attempt 17 free throws and to the Suns’ 16 total.
Paul, personally, is on a 12-game losing streak in post-season contests officiated by Foster, with the lone win coming in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Clippers during this year’s Western Conference Finals, which Paul was forced to miss due to health and safety protocols.
Since Paul has returned, though, his luck with Foster didn’t change.
This, of course, could be a massive coincidence, but it’s still a bad omen if you’re a Suns fan.
For some reason or another other, Paul – who hasn’t had a good Finals series ever since Holiday’s been put on him as the primary defender – is snakebit in games refereed by Foster.
Pressure on Bucks to close?
The Bucks have two chances to close out the series and win the championship, but it feels like they have to do it Tuesday night, lest they let their opportunity this season slip for good.
Milwaukee managed to stage a dramatic comeback in Game 5 after going down by 16 after the first quarter. The Bucks got brilliant contribution from all three of their stars, Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Holiday, and have a great deal of momentum coming back home where everyone on their team just plays better in front of what’s sure to be a madhouse inside and outside of the Fiserv Forum.
Tuesday is the chance to do it, but if they squander it, then the pendulum will swing right back in the Suns’ favour, especially because there’s sure to be talk about Paul slaying the Foster demon, to say nothing of just how insane Phoenix’s home fans will be for a Game 7.
Additionally, in a Game 7 atmosphere, would Milwaukee be able to steal yet another road game? It’s hard to say. From a Bucks perspective, it would be best not to leave it to that possibility. Get the job done Tuesday and begin celebrating.