If basketball fans were to rank which NBA teams they thought were the most fun to watch, the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks would each be at the top of the list — especially when these two teams are facing each other. While we don’t see this matchup often, because the Suns are in the Western Conference and the Bucks are in the Eastern Conference, each rare occasion the Suns and Bucks do square off seems to produce fireworks. While this likely wouldn’t be considered a rivalry, the Suns and Bucks playing each other in the 2021 NBA Finals certainly made these two teams despise each other while that series was underway — and for the Phoenix Suns, that despisal likely still exists because of how the series ended.
In this article, we’ll discuss the head to head history between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks, analyze their most notable past matchups, break down every game of their 2021 NBA Finals series, and predict what 2023-24 will look like for each team.
Suns vs Bucks Head to Head History
The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks have played each other a total of 158 times — 150 of which came during the regular season, and 8 came in the playoffs. The Suns hold a miniscule advantage in the regular season series, having a 76-74 record against the Bucks. Milwaukee, however, owns the Suns in the playoffs, having a 6-2 playoff record against them.
Phoenix and Milwaukee first played each other on November 23, 1968, in a game that the Bucks won 115-112. The most recent matchup between these two teams came on March 14, 2023, when the Bucks beat the Suns 116-104. These two teams will face each other next on February 6, 2024, in Phoenix.
The Suns hold the longest active winning streak between these two teams, having won 11 straight games against the Bucks from March 28, 1991, to March 29, 1996.
Here is a look at the 2022-23 to 2014-15 NBA Regular Season for games between the Suns and the Bucks
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game Log
|Game No.||Date||Home Team||Away Team||Result||Final Score||Overtime (OT)||Streak||Head-to-Head PHX-MIL|
|150||Mar 14, 2023||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||L||104 – 116||Bucks won 3||76 – 74|
|149||Feb 26, 2023||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||101 – 104||Bucks won 2||76 – 73|
|148||Mar 6, 2022||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||122 – 132||Bucks won 1||76 – 72|
|147||Feb 10, 2022||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||W||131 – 107||Suns won 4||76 – 71|
|146||Apr 19, 2021||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||W||128 – 127||OT||Suns won 3||75 – 71|
|145||Feb 10, 2021||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||W||125 – 124||Suns won 2||74 – 71|
|144||Mar 8, 2020||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||W||140 – 131||Suns won 1||73 – 71|
|143||Feb 2, 2020||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||108 – 129||Bucks won 1||72 – 71|
|142||Mar 4, 2019||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||W||114 – 105||Suns won 2||72 – 70|
|141||Nov 23, 2018||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||W||116 – 114||Suns won 1||71 – 70|
|140||Jan 22, 2018||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||105 – 109||Bucks won 6||70 – 70|
|139||Nov 22, 2017||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||L||107 – 113||OT||Bucks won 5||70 – 69|
|138||Feb 26, 2017||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||96 – 100||Bucks won 4||70 – 68|
|137||Feb 4, 2017||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||L||112 – 137||Bucks won 3||70 – 67|
|136||Mar 30, 2016||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||L||94 – 105||Bucks won 2||70 – 66|
|135||Dec 20, 2015||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||L||95 – 101||Bucks won 1||70 – 65|
|134||Jan 6, 2015||Milwaukee Bucks||Phoenix Suns||W||102 – 96||Suns won 1||70 – 64|
|133||Dec 15, 2014||Phoenix Suns||Milwaukee Bucks||L||94 – 96||Bucks won 1||69 – 64|
This table tracks the game results between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks from the 2022-23 season back to the 2014-15 season. The “Streak” column indicates the consecutive wins for the team that won the most recent match, and the “Head-to-Head” column shows the cumulative wins for each team over this period, as stated in your provided log.
Suns vs Bucks Notable Past Matchups
Because they play in separate conferences, the Suns and Bucks have only faced each other twice in the playoffs. The first matchup came way back in 1978, when the Milwaukee Bucks were still in the Western Conference. First round playoff series’s were best of three games back then, so this series between Phoenix and Milwaukee was over once the Bucks took the first two games by scores of 94-90 and 111-103.
Their second playoffs matchup came in the 2021 NBA Finals. While I will break this series down further in the next section, it’s worth noting that, prior to 2021, the Suns had never won an NBA Championship. In fact, the Suns are currently the oldest franchise to never win an NBA title, as they have been in the NBA since 1968. As for the Bucks, they had not won an NBA title since 1971; meaning a victory in 2021 would be their first Championship in 50 years.
Suns vs Bucks 2021 NBA Finals
The Phoenix Suns finished the 2020-21 regular season with a 51-21 record, which earned them the Western Conference #2 seed heading into the playoffs. They went on to beat the Lakers in the first round, sweep the Nuggets in the second round, then beat the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals to reach the NBA Finals.
The Milwaukee Bucks finished the 2020-21 regular season with a 46-26 record, which earned them the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. They then swept the Heat, beat the Nets in seven games in the second round, then defeat the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals to earn themselves a date with the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals.
Game 1 of the Finals matchup was in Phoenix — and Suns’ point guard Chris Paul (who had never before been to the NBA Finals in his Hall of Fame career) scored 32 points and tallied 9 assists, which allowed the Suns to cruise to a stress-free Game 1 victory, 118-105.
Game 2 was also in Phoenix — and finished with a nearly identical score. This time, the Suns three-point shooting prowess was on full display, as they nailed 20 threes in the game (7 of which came from Devin Booker). Despite a 42 point, 12 rebound performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Suns beat the Bucks in Game 2 118-108, and headed to Milwaukee up 2-0 in the series.
But Milwaukee wasn’t ready to give in. Back at home, the Bucks dominated in the second quarter of Game 3, outscoring the suns 35-17 in that quarter alone. Ultimately, the 41 points that Antetokounmpo scored (combined with 21 from Jrue Holiday), made Game 3 a blowout; with the Bucks beating the Suns 120-100 and making the series 2-1.
Game 4 was also in Milwaukee. And just like the three games before it, the home team was victorious. Yet, this game was much closer (and more exciting to watch, considering the 11 lead changes and 11 ties throughout) than the other three. Despite the Bucks being behind for most of the game, a fourth quarter surge from Antetokounmpo & Co. nullified Devin Booker’s 42 points, and the Bucks won Game 4 by a narrow 109-103 score.
Which meant the 2021 NBA Finals were tied 2-2 heading in to Game 5 in Phoenix. And while Game 4 was surely exciting, Game 5 was maybe even more so. Phoenix dominated the first quarter, the Bucks dominated quarters two and three, then the fourth quarter was mostly Phoenix. Yet, despite another 40 point performance from Devin Booker, the Suns couldn’t overcome the combined 88 points that Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Khris Middleton combined to score, and the Bucks won Game 5 123-119.
The Bucks were then one win away from their first NBA Championship, and had Game 6 at home. And unfortunately for Phoenix, their star players had poor shooting nights and were never able to get their offensive game going. And with Giannis Antetokounmpo scoring 50 points, the Bucks won Game 6 105-98; securing their first NBA Championship in 50 years.
Suns vs Bucks 2023-24 Matchup Analysis
The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks play each other two times in the 2023-24 regular season: on February 6 (in Phoenix), and on March 17 (in Milwaukee).
With the Bucks trading for Damian Lillard in the 2023 offseason and the Suns adding Bradley Beal (while also losing Chris Paul), the Bucks and Suns enter 2023-24 as two of the league’s most talented teams. One would imagine that both of these teams will finish in the top three of their respective conferences heading into the playoffs. While it will be an incredibly tough path for each team to return to the NBA Finals (especially for the Suns, in the stacked Western Conference), there’s a fair chance these two teams might have a 2021 NBA Finals rematch in 2024. And if that does end up happening, one would expect that the series is just as — if not more — exciting than the one back in 2021.
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