Devin Booker hit seven of his crew’s postseason-franchise-record 20 3-pointers whereas scoring 31 factors and the Suns went up 2-0 within the NBA Finals with a 118-108 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
The Suns overcame a playoff-career-best 42-point efficiency by Antetokounmpo.
Seeking the primary NBA title of their 53-year historical past, the Suns will go trophy-hunting on the street because the scene shifts to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday.
Suns ahead Jae Crowder wasted no time after Game 2 declaring that he and his teammates have already got a sport plan for the contests in Wisconsin.
“0-0. Fight,” he mentioned. “These guys are a tricky crew. Obviously, we’re going into a tricky setting, however your mind-set needs to be simply 0-0 subsequent sport. Can’t look too far forward, do not look again. Just next-game mentality, and that is what we’re preaching.”
En path to their eighth win in 10 residence video games this postseason, the Suns grabbed an 11-point halftime lead and saved the Bucks at arm’s size all through the ultimate 24 minutes.
The Bucks received as shut as 5 with 8:45 to play and 6 with 5:15 to go, however every time the Suns had a solution. Often a number of solutions.
Whether it was Deandre Ayton hitting from the inside, Booker connecting from the skin, Chris Paul aiding a key hoop, Crowder snatching a defensive rebound or Mikal Bridges grabbing one again on the offensive finish, the Suns used superior teamwork to put on down Milwaukee’s one-man present.
“Nothing Giannis does surprises me anymore. He has the nickname ‘Freak’ for a motive,” Bucks veteran Pat Connaughton mentioned. “He runs himself to exhaustion every so often and he leaves it on the market, and that is all you possibly can ask. That’s the kind of man that I need to be enjoying subsequent to.”
Booker’s 30-point outing was his eighth throughout his first profession postseason. He reached that mark at the least as soon as in each sequence.
On Thursday, he shot 12-for-25 from the ground, together with 7-for-12 from 3-point vary.
“Devin needs to show to everyone he is top-of-the-line gamers within the league, however not simply from a stats, numbers perspective. He needs to show it by profitable,” Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned. “And he is getting the prospect to do it on the massive stage.”
Booker’s long-range accuracy was contagious. Paul, Crowder and Bridges drilled three 3-pointers apiece because the Suns turned simply the third crew in NBA historical past to make 20 or extra in a Finals sport. The Cleveland Cavaliers hit 24 in a 2017 sport, and the Golden State Warriors sank 20 in a 2019 sport.
As a crew, the Suns went 20-for-40 from past the arc, outscoring the Bucks 60-27 from deep.
“We have a let-it-fly mentality,” Williams mentioned. “I do not assume you’ve gotten a alternative. You should adapt to the tendencies and what permits your crew to achieve success. Our guys work on it, and I inform them on a regular basis, ‘If you’re employed on it in observe, do it within the sport.'”
Bridges completed with 27 factors and Paul 23 for the Suns, who overcame 18 Bucks offensive rebounds and a 23-14 disparity in free-throw makes an attempt to achieve their third straight 2-0 benefit within the postseason.
Crowder (11 factors, 10 rebounds) and Ayton (10 factors, 11 rebounds) made it 5 Suns starters with double-figure factors.
Antetokounmpo, who additionally discovered time for a game-high 12 rebounds, logged the twenty fifth sport of 40 or extra factors by a participant in a Finals loss. LeBron James did it final season for the fifth time.
In simply his second sport again since hyperextending his left knee within the Eastern Conference finals in opposition to the Atlanta Hawks, Antetokounmpo had 20 of his 42 factors within the third quarter and 30 within the second half.
However, it wasn’t sufficient for a crew that was outshot 48.9 % to 45.2 % from the sector.
The 42 factors have been another than his earlier postseason excessive, which Antetokounmpo set within the first spherical in 2019 at Detroit. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer expects him to enhance in Milwaukee.
“I feel he understands and I feel he’ll be higher going into Game 3 — his conditioning, all the things,” Budenholzer mentioned. “He needs us to lean on him laborious. He needs as a lot accountability as we can provide him, and that is a part of what makes him nice.”
Holiday totaled 17 factors, Connaughton 14 and Khris Middleton 11 for the Bucks, who’ve gone 7-1 at residence within the postseason.
After by no means holding a lead over the ultimate 40 minutes of Game 1, the Bucks have been on high by as many as 9 within the first half Thursday earlier than finally getting buried in a barrage of Suns 3-pointers.
Phoenix had 11 within the first half — matching its variety of 2-pointers. Crowder and Bridges every hit a trey throughout a 15-4 run over the ultimate 4:39 of the second quarter that turned a 41-all tie right into a 56-45 benefit.