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Which team will be crowned the 2021 NBA Champion?

Amine El Amri, Le Matin (Morocco): Both teams lack experience, so it’s going to be tough to predict how the players will react, maybe with the exception of Jae Crowder. At first sight, the Suns appear to have a bit of an advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo is still recovering from his knee injury and the Phoenix franchise had a few more days of rest. With the basketball IQ of Chris Paul and the talent of Devin Booker, it may be really hard for the Bucks to match the pace… However, the Bucks have shown a lot of character in the postseason, beating the Brooklyn Nets after a thrilling seven-game series. Their Eastern Conference Finals win over the Hawks made Milwaukee go to new heights and their defence, boasting such players as Jrue Holiday and PJ Tucker, looks very strong.

The x-factor in the Finals will be the physical form, especially for the Bucks. If two-time MVP Giannis is fit and well, it will be tough for the Suns. Bucks in 6.

Garrin Lambley, The South African (South Africa): While the outcome may well hinge on the availability of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and even if the “Greek Freak” does return to the floor, the Suns deserve their favorites’ tag. They boast a true leader in Chris Paul, a red-hot shot maker in Devin Booker and a strong supporting cast. They will draw confidence from having won both regular season games, albeit by a single point. Phoenix in 6.

Juscelino da Silva, Jornal de Angola (Angola): The Suns are my candidate to win the NBA championship this season. They have a very strong team and they play together. They also have a slight advantage because they have rested longer after eliminating the Clippers … Phoenix will rely a lot on their superstar point guard Chris Paul and will look to take advantage of the fact that the Bucks’ biggest star has a knee injury.

Mohamed Youssef, Filgoal.com (Egypt): I think the Phoenix Suns will win the championship in six games. They have lots of experience in Chris Paul and a big time scoring in Devin Booker. They also have a great center in Deandre Ayton. The Suns will have the players capable of changing an outcome of the game at any point during the Finals. 

Nafy Amar Fall, Wiwsport (Senegal): I’m betting on the Milwaukee Bucks. They have shown exemplary determination throughout the competition in the Eastern Conference. It should pay off, but in my opinion it will be a long series against the Phoenix Suns. Both teams will likely play seven games. Thus, we hope to find Giannis Antetokounmpo back in the lineup and leading the Wisconsin franchise to victory. Remember, they adjusted and tested various systems without him and won against Atlanta. With their good defence, they will be the 2021 NBA champions.

Nicasius Agwanda, Clouds Media (Tanzania): I would have to go with the Bucks only, and only if Giannis is declared fit from Game 1. They are better defensively and have enough bodies to throw at Chris Paul and Devin Booker. As much as Chris Paul is motivated, Giannis has a chip on his shoulder to prove that he is an MVP and probably the best player in the league. The mental toughness from PJ Tucker, Khris Middleton being consistent and Jrue’s influence on the floor makes me pick the Bucks in 7. The only chance Suns have is to take advantage of the Bucks’ recklessness and the fact that Monty Williams is better at making adjustments than Budenholzer and that’s why I think it’ll go to seven games.

Refiloe Seiboko, Mail & Guardian (South Africa): I think the Suns will beat the Bucks in seven games. It just feels like this is the Suns’ year. The 8-0 bubble reset momentum hasn’t run out yet and it just feels like their moment. They’re unafraid of any team and Chris Paul is ready for his somewhat last chance saloon. 

Rotimi Akindele, Beat FM (Nigeria): The Bucks will be looking to end a 50-year drought with a side that has been building up to this moment for a number of years. Even with superstar Giannis looking 50-50 for the series, I think the drive to build on the momentum will work for the Bucks.

Bucks’ defensive toughness has been well exhibited, especially in the playoffs so far, with all five of their starters having a good defensive rating across the board. Playoff experience is also a big advantage for the Bucks. A good number of players in their current roster have got it. They have a bench depth as well and their mental doggedness is a big plus if they hope to come out of the series unscathed. Also, the partnership of Antetokounmpo and Middleton, who have played together for eight years, could also swing this series in the Bucks’ favour. Bucks in 6.

Stuart Hess, Independent Online (South Africa): This will be an incredibly close series. A lot depends on Giannis’ fitness – a fully fit Giannis for the whole series and the Bucks win. But if he’s not fully fit – and there is an emphasis on fully fit – that opens the door for the Suns, who are a clever team that is very well led on the floor by Paul and well coached by Monty Williams. In the scenario where Giannis isn’t fully fit throughout, the Suns take the series in 6. A fully fit Giannis, and the Bucks win in 6.   
Woury Diallo, Le Quotidien(Senegal): I am expecting the 2021 NBA Finals to be undecided till the very end. Reaching the Finals, both teams have had an exceptional year and have proven that they have means and a will to win the title. But I think Chris Paul’s Phoenix Suns have a slight advantage. He’s been the author of a remarkable season and despite the injuries, the Suns’ leader was able to respond. At his best, he remains a great asset to his team.  The concern for the Milwaukee Bucks may be a potential absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo. So far during his absence, the Bucks could count on Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, but the physical condition and freshness will be essential to go all the way. It will be the Suns who will raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the end.

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Refiloe Seiboko
Subeditor at Mail & Guardian

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