NBA Finals on ABC: CP3’s first Finals, Giannis’ injury and other storylines to follow

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Basketball history is about to change for the better with the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns set to face off in the 2021 NBA Finals. With every single game of the series being broadcast on ABC, there will be plenty of NBA Finals coverage here on YakTriNews.com and KAPP-KVEW over the next several weeks.

The NBA Finals tip-off on Tuesday, July 6 at 6:00 p.m. PST on KAPP-KVEW (ABC). Before the action begins, here are a few important storylines that you’ll want to follow during the series.

1. This will be the Phoenix Suns’ first-ever championship win or Milwaukee’s first in 50 years.

Regardless of which team wins the series, fans are going to go ballistic once the 2021 NBA Champion is crowned. For the Phoenix Suns, a team that missed the playoffs for 10 straight years before this season, this is a chance for redemption. The Suns’ first trip to the NBA Finals ended in defeat when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls completed their first of two 3-peats in 1993. They haven’t been back since.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee has been to the NBA Finals twice before—once in 1971 and again in 1974. Led by the superstar duo of Oscar Robertson and Lew Alcindor (who then changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Milwaukee won its only championship 50 years ago under the watch of these two Hall of Famers. The Bucks have been highly competitive as of late with five consecutive playoff appearances and two seasons with the best record in the Eastern Conference.

2. Superstar point guard Chris Paul is already a lock for the Hall of Fame. At age 36, he finally makes his first Finals.

If you’ve paid any attention to professional basketball over the past 20 years, you’ve probably heard the name Chris Paul. Some may know him better as ‘The guy from the State Farm commercials’ in which he portrays himself and his fake brother, ‘Cliff Paul.’ Over his 16 seasons in the NBA, Paul has been renowned as one of the most calculated, intelligent basketball players in the history of the game.

An 11-time All-Star who has led the league in assists four times and steals six times, Paul is a basketball genius. He currently ranks fifth in the league’s all-time assist and steals records. However, horrible playoff luck, injuries, and a few run-ins with the Golden State Warriors dynasty kept him from reaching the highest stage of the game.

After leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to the playoffs last year in a season in which most fans wrote the Thunder off, Paul was traded to the Phoenix Suns to build a legitimate NBA contender. He’s overcome a battle with COVID-19 and a serious shoulder injury already through this playoff run, but capped off the Suns’ elimination of his former team, the LA Clippers, with 41 points, eight assists, three steals, and zero turnovers in Game Six of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. Approaching the end of his career, CP3 is here to cement his legacy.

3. Can two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo overcome his injury to claim his first NBA championship?

Few people, let alone professional athletes, are as inspiring as Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. Once an unsteady prospect with raw talent and uncanny athletic gifts, Antetokounmpo has evolved his game every season of his career. That lanky teenager from Greece went on to hone his skills and win the league’s Most Valuable Player award in back-to-back seasons (2019 and 2020).

Antetokounmpo is on the cusp of his first NBA Finals appearance and he didn’t even play in the game that booked his team’s ticket. ‘The Greek Freak,’ as he’s lovingly nicknamed by his fans, suffered a hyperextended knee in Game Four of the Bucks’ Eastern Conference Finals series against the Atlanta Hawks. His teammates closed out Games 5 and 6 to finally push one of the game’s best regular-season teams into the championship round.

Giannis was heavily criticized after his team was eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat in last year’s playoffs. The criticisms against him are growing louder in NBA circles and now, he has a chance to prove his doubters wrong. He’ll look to answer two important questions with his play in this series: “Can Giannis overcome his injury to help his team? and “Is Giannis’ playstyle conducive to championship basketball?”

4. Will Phoenix’s youth be able to overcome Milwaukee’s veterans?

These two teams have been built with very different approaches up to this point. For Milwaukee, creating a contender has been a slow yet steady process. They drafted Antetokounmpo and traded for the Batman to his Robin, Khris Middleton, that same offseason. This group is compiled mostly of seasoned NBA veterans who bring a unique set of skills to the table. All eight of the players averaging double-digit minutes in the playoffs have at least four years of NBA experience under their belts.

Besides Paul and gritty veteran forward Jae Crowder, Phoenix is an inexperienced group. Along with those two elder players, the Suns’ starting five is rounded out by Devin Booker (24), DeAndre Ayton (22), and Mikal Bridges (24). This is each of their first time in the postseason, and while head coach Monty Williams has done an exceptional job of guiding them, playoff experience tends to be crucial for a championship contender.

Phoenix won both games against the Bucks this season, but Milwaukee has the edge in postseason experience. Find out who will prevail by watching the NBA Finals on KAPP-KVEW starting June 6 at 6:00 p.m.

RECENT SPORTS HEADLINES FROM THE KAPP-KVEW NEWS STAFF:

RELATED: Tri-City Americans legend Carey Price advances to first Stanley Cup Finals