The Phoenix Suns’ 118-105 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks and their 2x NBA MVP showed they can beat the Eastern Conference Champions, even when completely healthy
Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns showed out Tuesday night during their first NBA Finals game since 1993, beating the Eastern Conference Champs by 13 points thanks to Paul shooting 46.6% from the field and 96.2% from the free-throw line.
The Suns and Bucks were both sporting complete lineups at the beginning of the game, which included five-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo who had missed the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a hyperextended knee.
Antetokounmpo thrived early in the game, eventually finishing with 20 points, 17 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block. And while Antetokounmpo played 35 minutes, and looked to be almost 100%, it still wasn’t enough to stop the surging Suns or their bench depth.
At one point in the 3rd quarter, the Suns were up by 20 points and could not seem to miss or make a mistake on offense or defense. They would give up a large chunk of the lead heading into the final few minutes of the fourth quarter but would never let go of it.
CP3 drove Phoenix’s success with his 32 points on 12-19 shooting from the field, his 57% shooting from three-point range, and his pure veteran leadership ability that showed whenever he stepped foot on the court.
SG Devin Booker (27 pts/6 ast/3 stl) and C Deandre Ayton (22 pts/19 reb/1 stl), both of whom playing in their first NBA playoffs of their career, also lifted the Suns to their first Finals home victory since 1976 with their lights-out gameplay.
Even though Booker played as well as people thought he would he had nothing but praise for his point guard who he said “has been a bucket for a very long time” during the postgame press conference (below):
The Suns Were Too Much
The Bucks were not able to stop four of the Suns’ starting five–Jae Crowder only scored one point on 0-8 shooting–but they were also unable to keep Phoenix’s bench from scoring at will too, which brought 22 points off the sideline for “the Valley” through Cam Payne (10 pts), Cam Johnson (10 pts), and Torrey Craig (2 pts).
Milwaukee’s SF Khris Middleton and C Brook Lopez tried to keep the Bucks afloat with their combined 39% field goal percentage and their persistent defense alongside three-time All-Defensive selection Jrue Holiday, but it would prove fruitless in the end.
Sadly, for the Bucks, the Suns simply did not slow down and they continued to outscore their opponent in the paint (44 pts) as they have throughout most of these NBA Playoffs.
Now Phoenix, who lost second-string center Dario Šarić early in the game, will have the 1-0 series lead heading into Game Two in Phoenix on Thursday, July 9th.
Not only does Phoenix have the momentum heading into Game Two now, but they also have history on their side considering over 76% of teams who win the first game of a best-of-seven series go on to win the series.
On top of that, the NBA team that wins the first game of the best-of-seven series at home has an even better chance of winning the series (over 85%), which is great news for Suns fans that have been waiting 28 years for this moment.
When Game Two tips off Thursday night it will likely be to the same loud tune that the Suns’ fans kept constant during Game One which consisted of loud ten-second countdowns during Antetokounmpo’s free throw attempts and screams that drowned out the sound of sideline reporters.