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PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 06: Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns drives against Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the first quarter in Game One of the NBA Finals at Phoenix Suns Arena on July 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo : Chris Coduto/Getty Images)
The Phoenix Suns moved ever closer to winning their first NBA championship after grabbing a 118-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night. Chris Paul and Devin Booker starred for the Suns, who now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Playing in his first NBA Finals game, Chris Paul took charge for the Suns, recording a game-high 32 points with four rebounds and nine assists. He was outstanding, particularly in the third quarter, scoring 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field, helping Phoenix stretch its lead to 16 points before the start of the fourth period.
Paul and Booker sizzle in Game 1
Devin Booker was the Suns’ second-highest scorer with 27 points as he and Paul made mincemeat of the Bucks’ defensive schemes. According to research by ESPN Stats, they are just the third set of teammates to score at least 25 points in their Finals debut since 1980, joining Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (2012) and Orlando Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway (1995).
Paul and Booker wreaked havoc in their isolation opportunities, going 12-of-19 from the field in those offensive sets. That’s the most makes and attempts by Paul and Booker with the isolation play in any games since they became teammates in Phoenix last offseason.
Paul has picked the perfect time to get his offensive game going with the Suns nearing the promised land. He has now scored a combined total of 73 points in his last two playoff games, including his 41-point explosion in the series clincher against the Los Angeles Clippers, the most he’s ever had over a two-game span in his playoff career.
Paul also became just the fourth player in NBA history to record at least 70 points on 65% shooting and 15 assists over two games in the postseason, joining two former Phoenix greats in Steve Nash and Kevin Johnson and Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson.
It wasn’t just Paul and Booker who carried the scoring cudgels for Phoenix in Game 1. Four other players scored in double figures for the Suns: Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Payne, and Cameron Johnson. Ayton had a monster performance in Game 1, registering yet another playoff double-double with 22 points and 19 boards.
Giannis returns, but Bucks disappoint
It’s back to the drawing board for the Bucks, who had no answer for the Suns’ pick-and-roll game. The good news for Milwaukee is that it is just one game and that they will have a healthy Giannis Antetokounmpo for the rest of the series.
The Greek Freak looked outstanding in his return to the court after hyperextending his left knee in the series against the Atlanta Hawks, finishing with 20 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block in 35 minutes of action in Game 1.
One guy who needs to step up for the Bucks in Game 2 is Jrue Holiday. He struggled mightily in the series opener, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting from the field.
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