Milwaukee Bucks: 5 most crucial matchups in NBA Finals vs. Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Giannis Antetokounmpo’s offense vs. Deandre Ayton will be crucial in NBA Finals between Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns

Opposing teams oftentimes throw the biggest body possible at Giannis Antetokounmpo when they play the Bucks, which is precisely what the Suns did this year. Phoenix utilized Ayton’s size to try and limit Antetokounmpo, and they will almost certainly stick with that strategy this time around.

During the two regular season meetings, Giannis scored 34 points total on 10-of-24 shooting from the floor, including 0-of-4 from deep across 50.2 partial possessions against Ayton. The two-time MVP’s offense was not exactly clicking, but his aggressive approach saw him head to the line for an eye-catching 14 attempts, every single one of which he knocked down.

This time around, the formula will be similar to what saw Giannis succeed versus the Hawks and Clint Capela. Throughout the games he played in that series, Antetokounmpo was a force to be reckoned with when he put his head down and bulldozed his way to the basket. However, when he settled for outside jumpers – shooting just 1-of-8 from three across four games – it was all but once a break for the Hawks.

Antetokounmpo will have to stick to this attacking mindset, but his overall health will come first, of course. The Greek Freak missed Games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals as he nursed a hyperextended knee suffered in Game 4, and there has been no timetable given for a return. However, there were rumors swirling that Antetokounmpo would have likely played in a potential Game 7 had the Bucks lost to the Hawks in Game 6, so a return could be nearing for Giannis in these NBA Finals.

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The Bucks are back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974, and you can catch the Game 1 action versus the Suns at 8:00 p.m. CST Tuesday night on ABC.