The NBA Finals begin tonight, and though the Clippers won’t be participating, it should still be an excellent showcase of two of the best teams in the league (provided Giannis Antetokounmpo participates).
Here’s the schedule for this year’s Finals. All games are on ABC.
- Game 1: Tuesday, July 6, 6 p.m. PT
- Game 2: Thursday, July 8, 6 p.m. PT
- Game 3: Sunday, July 11, 5 p.m. PT
- Game 4: Wednesday, July 14, 6 p.m. PT
- Game 5: Saturday, July 17, 6 p.m. PT (if necessary)
- Game 6: Tuesday, July 20 (if necessary)
- Game 7: Thursday, July 22 (if necessary)
It’s always hard to figure out who to cheer for when your team gets eliminated, though. I don’t pretend to have the answer in this case, but here are some reasons for why both the Suns and the Bucks would be suitable champions for the Clippers’ purposes.
If Phoenix wins, the Clippers can genuinely say the healthiest team prevailed and go into next season with the knowledge that they can beat the defending champs at full strength. That would presumably make it more appealing for L.A.’s free agents to return to the Clippers for a chance to run it back, even if that comes at a discount, knowing how close they were.
The Suns might be forced into some tough financial circumstances if they win. They’ll surely have to max Deandre Ayton on his rookie extension and potentially show some additional love to Mikal Bridges if he fares well against Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday. Overpaying the existing core is one of the few consequences of building a title team, and the best thing that could happen to a conference rival is a bloated salary sheet.
A Suns victory would also be a crowning achievement for Chris Paul. Although he’s been with three teams since leaving the Clippers, Paul’s story can never be separated fully from this franchise. He’s had perhaps the greatest Clippers career of all time, and he deserves to finally win on the biggest stage. A championship might also push Paul closer to retirement, clearing out a potential competitor.
It would also be satisfying to watch the Bucks win and thus the Suns lose after an agonizing conference finals that did not make it easy to root for Phoenix. The Chris Paul feelings go both ways, and it’s completely reasonable to not enjoy his success beyond Los Angeles.
A Milwaukee victory would likely mean a healthy series for Giannis, which is in the interest of all NBA fans. It would also make it more plausible for the Bucks to keep Mike Budenholzer and not upgrade at head coach in the offseason, which makes them a less intimidating foe in 2021-22.
A Milwaukee win would also leave the Suns title-less, just like the Clippers, and sometimes, misery loves company.
Who are you rooting for in the NBA Finals?
This poll is closed
Just start next season already
More news for Tuesday:
- The PG/Kawhi partnership arguably hit its peak in Game 4 of the conference semifinals. What comes next?
- Howard Beck lists the lessons that this Finals matchup has taught us.
- John Schuhmann gives all the numbers you’d want to know for the Milwaukee/Phoenix series. John Hollinger dives into the narratives.
- Kevin Arnovitz and Kevin Pelton explain the centrality of the pick-and-roll for the remaining teams.
- The Wizards have narrowed their head coaching search to Jamahl Mosley, Darvin Ham, Charles Lee, and Wes Unseld Jr. Ham and Unseld both interviewed for the Clippers opening last year.
- On his latest podcast episode, former Clipper JJ Redick reveals his thoughts on the new NBA balls coming next season.
- USA Today has a thorough piece on transgender athletes in youth sports.