NBA play-offs 2021: Analysis of the Conference finalists
Preview and odds ahead of the Conference finals
The line-ups for the Eastern and Western Conference finals have been confirmed as we edge closer to the climax of the NBA play-offs.
Fifth seeds Atlanta Hawks defeated Philadelphia 76ers in a decider to book their place against Milwaukee Bucks, who also needed all seven games to beat Brooklyn Nets, in the final of the East, while Phoenix Suns already hold a 1-0 lead over Los Angeles Clippers in the Western final.
We look at the four teams and their chances of winning the title next month in our NBA betting tips.
Milwaukee Bucks (1/1)
Milwaukee produced a superb overtime victory in Brooklyn to book their place and are favourites to claim only the second NBA title in their history, 50 years on from their maiden success.
Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to showcase his star credentials, averaging 28.8 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists in the NBA play-offs, with Khris Middleton adding an average of 23.3 points and eight rebounds per game.
They saw off Miami Heat, who defeated them en route to the 2020 NBA finals, in a 4-0 blowout series before edging out the second-seeded Nets. The Bucks are the only team who can stop themselves from at least reaching the finals.
Phoenix Suns (31/20)
Devin Booker has been playing at a different level in the play-offs as the Suns continue their momentum from the regular season.
Even without veteran star Chris Paul due to injury, Booker helped Phoenix to a 120-114 victory in game one of the Western Conference finals with his first career triple-double.
He posted a game-leading 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges also produced big performances. The roar of the Phoenix fans could be a deciding factor in their pursuit of a maiden NBA title.
Los Angeles Clippers (7/1)
The Clippers have done it the hard way to reach the Western Conference finals after coming back to win in a series-decider against Dallas Mavericks before seeing off number one seeds Utah Jazz.
Paul George has been in superb form, averaging 26.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game but he will have to guide Los Angeles without two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard – averaging 30.4 points and 7.7 rebounds – has been sidelined since game four against the Jazz with a sprained ACL and it remains to be seen whether he will feature at all against Phoenix, which is a huge blow for head coach Ty Lue.
Atlanta Hawks (11/1)
The outsider of the four teams is Atlanta but they cannot be ruled out completely after dispatching New York Knicks and top seeds Philadelphia 76ers.
Trae Young has been the guiding light for the Hawks as they continue to upset their rivals and they could follow in the footsteps of Miami, who were also the fifth seeds en route to the finals last season.
They are a young team with potential stars such as John Collins, Clint Capela and Cam Reddish, but also have proven players like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari and Kris Dunn to add depth to their squad.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication