One down, three to go. The Phoenix Suns took care of business at home Tuesday night, beating the Bucks 118-105 to take a 1-0 lead in the 2021 NBA Finals. Let’s talk about it.
Paul’s 32 buries Bucks in Game 1
This moment is a long time coming for Chris Paul. 16 years, five teams, 11 All-Star selections. But last night, at the age of 36, he made his first appearance in the NBA Finals… and dominated. Led by Paul’s 32 points and nine assists, the Suns led nearly the entire game en route to last night’s Game 1 victory. He scored half his points in the third quarter alone, driving a 31-18 run that stretched his team’s lead to 20, effectively putting the game away. In the biggest outing of his life, the veteran controlled nearly every aspect of the game.
Still, he got a little help from Devin Booker, too. Making his own Finals debut at 24, the young superstar dropped a cool 27 on 8-21 shooting. He reached deep in his bag for this crafty finish late in the first half:
— NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2021
Despite their mutual lack of experience on the Finals stage, the two stars appeared more than ready for the challenge. Maybe it was something in the water?
Book and CP3 forever pic.twitter.com/vfdQNNIfAq
— Andrew (@AndrewLeezus) July 7, 2021
For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo was active after initially being listed as doubtful with a nagging knee injury. He scored 20 points in 35 minutes, and he gave it his all with 17 rebounds as well. Despite the loss, the Greek Freak turned more than a few heads with this second-quarter block, which brought to mind LeBron James’ famous rejection of Andre Iguodala in the 2016 Finals:
GIANNIS SUPERHUMAN BLOCK ? pic.twitter.com/5nbETqLGmc
— ESPN (@espn) July 7, 2021
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 29 points and seven rebounds in the losing effort, while Brook Lopez contributed 17. Bobby Portis and his creepy eyes were held to just five points. On the other end, Deandre Ayton had another monster game for Phoenix with 22 points and 19 rebounds. All together, the Suns “big three” of Booker, Paul and Ayton combined for 81 points.
The win gives Phoenix a 1-0 lead in the series, putting Paul & co. just three games away from tasting that long-awaited championship glory. Game 2 is Thursday night on ABC. You better believe we’ll be watching.
Game 2: Thursday, 7/8 (ABC) – Bucks @ Suns – 9:00 ET