Led by the effervescent Chris Paul, who joined Michael Jordan in being the only player to score 30+ points and record 8 assists or more in their NBA Championship Series debut, the Phoenix Suns took the opening game in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 118-105.
— NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2021
As has so often been the case in the playoffs, it was the Suns 1-2 combination of Paul and Devin Booker that proved to be the catalyst for their success in terms of point scoring, while Deandre Ayton had a big double-double collecting 19 rebounds to go alongside his 22 points in the game.
Booker’s 27 points meant that he and Pail combined for half of the Suns 118 point total and in truth it was a game that the Suns dominated particularly from the third quarter onwards.
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Giannis Fit To Play
The evening had started positively for Bucks fans after star man Giannis Antetokounmpo
was ruled fit enough to play, following an on-court workout before the game.
Having sorely missed their star man in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Clippers, the Bucks were delighted to see him on the court.
His appearance certainly seemed to help the Bucks in what was a closely fought first half that saw both teams well matched, with just eight points separating the two, in favor of the Suns, at half time.
However, the Suns and Chris Paul took control of the contest in the third, after securing a double-digit lead with the opening score of the third, he followed that by scoring eight straight points a little later in the third quarter, hitting two three pointers, sandwiched between a layup.
With just under 2 and a half minutes left on the clock, a close game had seen the Suns open up a 20-point lead.
While the Bucks tried to close that gap in the final quarter, reducing it to seven points at one point, Paul was once again the leader for the Suns as he played a key role in the Suns snatching the next five points to restore a 12-point lead from which the Bucks could not recover.
“Tough To Guard”
Speaking after the game the Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer commented on how his team needs to adopt their approach for Game 2 in the series.
“Their pick and roll game is tough to guard,” he commented.
“I think we’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ll look at the film. We’ll see how we can maybe take away some of the rhythm.”
One potential strategy may be to cut down the number of free throws the Suns were handed by Bucks fouls as they made 25 straight during the game, only missing when Jae Crowder went one of two late in the game.
However, the Bucks definitely need to find a way to stop Chris Paul influencing the game as much for the Suns as he did the opener as even with the freescoring Devin Booker as an opponent, it is still Paul that makes the Suns shine.
Bucks Now +5 Underdogs
The dominance of the Suns in the opening game of the series has impacted the odds on the second game, with the Bucks now a +5 underdog on the spread bet market with DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Bucks are now +175 on the moneyline bet, with the Suns odds slashed to -215.
The second game in the series will take place on Thursday evening in Phoenix with the Suns looking to win both their opening home game of the series.