The 2021 NBA playoffs have been unexpected to say the least. Nevertheless both of the remaining teams earned their spot to play for the title and would hold it proudly. With the stage all set only one series remains.
Throughout this year’s playoffs, disruptive defensive play, strong showings on the boards and impactful injuries significantly limited the impact of team shooting compared to previous years. Except for one team. The Suns currently rank first or second in team assist, team field-goal, and team free throw percentage, shooting almost 50 percent from the field and 86 percent from the line. This team found success quickly outscoring opponents with an upspeed tempo, taking fewer shots, but hitting every other shot on a nightly basis. Success that shows efficient shooting still reigns supreme at the highest level of the game. Despite a 30 year absence, with constant ball movement and consistency in shooting, the Phoenix Suns make a strong case as a favorite for the title.
The Bucks take the Eastern Conference after big performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton (especially in Giannis’s injury absence). Ranking eighth in postseason field-goal percentage and fourteenth in free throw percentage, the Bucks tend to rely on their talented big guys rather than pure shooting. Indicated by Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the team as one of their bests in shooting efficiency, averaging 55 percent from the floor and 28.2 points per game. However, looking at every postseason game in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, 84 percent of game winners also won the battle for shooting efficiency, the Bucks’ games included. Consequently, all of the Bucks’ losses came on nights of poor shooting, and as expected, in all but one of their wins they recorded a higher shooting percentage than the other team. With a match up against one of the most efficient shooting teams and ongoing injury battles for Giannis, the Bucks will need to take advantage of all the opportunities they can create in order to disrupt the Suns’ tendency for quick leads and give themselves the best chance to hoist that Larry O'Brien.