Chris Paul Leads Suns to Game 1 Win Over Bucks in NBA Finals Debut
This stage was made for Chris Paul.
After 16 long years, the Phoenix Suns superstar point guard made his debut on the NBA Final stage and he was ready to make a statement in front of a rabid Suns fanbase.
On Tuesday night, behind a game-high 32 points from Paul, the Suns drew first blood in the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks with a 118-105 victory. Paul shot an incredible 63% from the field and even added nine points in the win.
“I was watching them soccer games,” Paul said in his post-game. “I watched a hockey game last night. I’m watching that, like, ‘Damn, how do they know to pass it there?’ And they probably think the same thing with us. But we do this so often, and we have seen just about every coverage you could possibly see, so it’s second nature.”
The Suns are now three games away from their first championship in franchise history and head coach Monty Williams understands full well that if Paull has everything going like he did on Tuesday night, his team would be nearly impossible to stop moving forward.
“When it’s going like that, you just want to space the floor well and let him orchestrate,” Williams said following the game. “I thought he was making the right plays. He was making shots, and when he’s in that mode, we just feed off that”.
The other two members of the Suns big-3 put together huge performances as well. Devin Booker finished the night with 27 points while DeAndre Ayton continued his splendid playoff run with 22 points and 19 rebounds. Two-way guard Mikal Bridges added 14 points in the winning effort.
“We have to punish teams for switching 1 through 5 like that,” said Booker. “Like I just heard Chris say, we prepare for any type of defense and we watch a lot of basketball, and where we have been most successful in that situation is space out. So, every time he shoots it, we think it’s going in.”
Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo returned to the Bucks for Game 1 following a gruesome injury which he had sustained in the middle of Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference Finals series against the Atlanta Hawks. The Greek Freak scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in his return, but it was not enough to help will the Bucks to a victory.
“I couldn’t walk, and my knee was like double the size,” Antetokounmpo commented on his injury. “Usually I never swell up. But you know, I woke up the next day, did whatever it’s called, MRI or X-ray — I don’t know what it’s called — and they said I’m good. And I was like, ‘Thank God.’
“But at the end of the day, it’s like all the medical staff and the strength and conditioning team, they have done a great job throughout the year to keep me healthy, and all the work we’ve put in, that’s why it wasn’t as bad, you know, because of all the work I’ve put in throughout the years, I’m happy. I’m not trying to make it about me, and hopefully in Game 2, I’ll feel better.”
The Bucks will look to nod up the series at one apiece on Thursday evening.