Chris Paul shined in his NBA Finals debut by making history in the Suns’ Game 1 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Paul became the third player in NBA history 36 years old or older to score 30+ points. The point guard joins Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Paul scored 32 points and dished out nine assists to lead the Phoenix to their first NBA Finals victory since 1993. He also became the first person to have 30 points and eight assists in a final since Michael Jordan in 1991.

The Bucks were unable to defend Paul’s pick-and-rolls all night long. The Suns exploited Bucks center, Brook Lopez, by forcing him to switch onto Paul. Lopez was unable to guard Paul as he continuously torched him from the mid-range. Paul also lobbed it to DeAndre Ayton for alley-oops after Ayton would set a screen. Phoenix also exploited Milwaukee’s double-teams on Devin Booker. Whenever Booker was double-teamed by the Bucks, he passed it to open teammates for easy three-point shots. Lopez was the main target on the pick-and-rolls and was eventually benched in the third quarter. He did not return. 

This continuous exploitation of the Bucks’ defense allowed the Suns to run away with the lead in the third quarter, increasing the lead to 20 points. Milwaukee attempted a fourth-quarter comeback that brought them to within seven, but it wasn’t enough. Phoenix held on for a 118-105 Game 1 victory.

Milwaukee’s star Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a knee injury despite being listed as doubtful earlier in the day. Antetokounmpo scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds while fellow All-Star and teammate Khris Middleton scored 29 points. Antetokounmpo played noticeably slower and was not himself. The Bucks need him to be 100 percent healthy if they have any shot at winning the title. Milwaukee will also have to revise its plan on defense to counter Phoenix’s offense.

Although Paul led the Suns, Ayton and Booker played brilliantly as well. Ayton finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds while Booker added 27 points.

The Suns are now three wins away from winning their first NBA title. Game 2 will be played on Thursday.

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