Chris Paul waited 16 seasons to reach the NBA Finals and if his place in Tuesday’s series opener was any sign, he’s determined to get that first ring.
Paul scored 32 points, including 16 in the third quarter, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 118-105 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at the Phoenix Suns Arena.
Devin Booker scored 27 points and DeAndre Ayton added a double-double, posting 22 points and 19 rebounds for the Suns, who played in their first NBA Finals in nearly 30 years.
The game was the first NBA Finals game in Arizona since 1993 and Phoenix’s first playoff appearance since 2010. The Bucks made their lone appearance in the championship game way back in 1976.
”We’ve been building all season long for these moments,” Paul said. ”We’re going to keep playing. This is just one game. We’ve got to stay locked in.”
Phoenix outscored Milwaukee 35-27 in the third quarter as Paul and Ayton dominated the Bucks inside and outside.
Meanwhile, the Bucks got Giannis Antetokounmpo back after he missed the latter part of the Conference Finals with a hyperextended knee. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds.
”I’m just happy that I’m out there and I’m able to help my team in any way possible and participate in my first NBA Finals,” Antetokounmpo said.
Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 29 points, shooting 46 percent for the game and knocking down 5-of-12 three-pointers. Brook Lopez added 17 points and six rebounds but nothing was a match for the Suns’ three-headed monster of Booker, Paul, and Ayton.
”We know it’s not going to be easy. We know it’s going to be tough,” Middleton said. ”There are times where we’re going to be down in this series. But this series isn’t over. We’re down. We’ve still got to keep competing and just playing.”
The Suns and Bucks face each other in Game 2 on Thursday night at 9 PM ET.