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Courtesy of Milwaukee’s win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Atlanta on Saturday night, the 2021 NBA Finals features a matchup of two recent Houston Rockets stalwarts: Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul and Milwaukee Bucks forward PJ Tucker. They also happened to be childhood friends and competitors in North Carolina.

Paul played for the Rockets in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons as their floor general, while Tucker was arguably the team’s most valuable defensive player from 2017-18 until midway through 2020-21.

Both veterans had their exits influenced, either directly or indirectly, by former Rockets teammate James Harden. In the case of Paul, his trade to Oklahoma City in the July 2019 deal bringing Russell Westbrook to Houston was reportedly done at the request of Harden. Meanwhile, after Harden leveraged his way to Brooklyn via a January 2021 trade, Tucker was dealt to Milwaukee in March — once it became clear that Houston had been forced into a rebuilding approach.

Featuring Paul and Tucker, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals is set for Tuesday night from Phoenix. The full schedule can be seen below.


Former Rockets star Chris Paul reaches first NBA Finals in Phoenix

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