NBA

Chris Paul shines in Finals debut, Suns take 1-0 series lead

The Phoenix Suns got the better of the Milwaukee Bucks in game one of the 2021 NBA Finals with a 118-105 home win.

In his NBA Finals debut, Suns guard Chris Paul put on a show. He dropped 32 points and 9 assists on 12-19 shooting and 4-7 from deep, helping his team take a 1-0 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. The 16th-year point guard has waited a long time for this moment, and he did not disappoint.

Devin Booker

Devin Booker, in not only his first Finals but also his first playoffs, added 27 of his own to go with 6 assists and 3 steals. He did struggle a bit from the field but went 10-10 from the free throw line. Third-year big man DeAndre Ayton finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds on 8-10 shooting. Mikal Bridges added 14 while Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne each added 10 off the bench.

Khris Middleton led the way for Milwaukee, pouring in 29 points including 5 three-pointers. Giannis Antetokounmpo was cleared to play less than an hour before tip-off, despite going down with a knee injury in game four of the Conference Finals. He played 35 minutes and looked sharp. His 20 points were the second-highest total on the team, and he also grabbed 17 boards, dished out 4 assists and recorded 2 steals. His availability and level of performance were a big question mark heading into the series. Through one game, Bucks fans must be encouraged on that front. 

Phoenix Suns in the driving seat

The Suns were in the driver seat for almost the entirety of game one. The lead bounced back-and-forth in the first quarter but a Cam Johnson three with 3:30 remaining in the frame put the Suns up 21-20. They would never trail for the remainder of the contest, leading by as many as 20 at one point in the third. The Bucks made a push in the fourth, reducing the deficit to seven points, but they would not get any closer than that. 

The two teams shot nearly identical percentages from the field; Milwaukee: 40-88 and Phoenix: 41-88. The Bucks actually had the three-point edge in this one as well, converting on 16 of tier 36 attempts. But it was the free throw line where the Suns won this game. They got to the line 26 times and made an incredible 25 of those attempts; a 96.2% mark. Milwaukee on the other hand converted on just nine of their 16 shots from the charity stripe (56.3%).

Game two will take place on Thursday at 9:00 pm ET in Phoenix, before the series shifts to Milwaukee for games three and four. ComeOn! Sportsbook favours the Suns in game two. They sit at 1.44 to go take a 2-0 series lead while the Bucks are listed at 2.70 to tie the series at one. Phoenix and Milwaukee are now set at 1.33 and 3.50, respectively, to win the series.