Devin Booker hit seven of his team’s 20 playoff franchise records while scoring 31 points and the Suns advanced 2-0 in the NBA Finals with a 118-108 victory over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
The Suns overcame a career best 42 point playoff performance by Antetokounmpo.
In search of the first NBA title in their 53-year history, the Suns will go on a road trophy hunt as the stage moves to Milwaukee for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday.
Suns forward Jae Crowder wasted no time after Game 2, saying he and his teammates already had a game plan for competitions in Wisconsin.
“0-0. Fight,” he said. “These guys are a tough team. Obviously we’re going into a tough environment, but your mindset has to be just 0-0 the next game. Can’t look too far, don’t look back. Right next – gaming mentality, and that’s what we preach. “
On their way to their eighth win in 10 home playoff games, the Suns took an 11-point lead at halftime and kept the Bucks at bay throughout the final 24 minutes.
The Bucks came close to five with 8.45 am to go and six with 5:15 to play, but each time the Suns had an answer. Often multiple responses.
Whether it was Deandre Ayton hitting from the inside, Booker connecting from the outside, Chris Paul helping a key hoop, Crowder snatching a defensive rebound, or Mikal Bridges catching a return to the offensive, the Suns used some work from equipment superior to use that of Milwaukee. man show.
“Nothing surprises me from Giannis anymore. He has the nickname ‘Freak’ for a reason,” said Bucks veteran Pat Connaughton. “He gets exhausted every now and then and he leaves it out, and that’s all you can ask for. He’s the kind of guy I want to play with.”
Booker’s 30-point outing was his eighth in his first career playoffs. He has reached this mark at least once in each series.
On Thursday, he shot 12 for 25 from the ground, including 7 for 12 at 3 points.
“Devin wants to prove to everyone that he is one of the best players in the league, but not just statistically and in numbers. He wants to prove it by winning,” said the Suns coach. , Monty Williams. “And he’s got the chance to do it on the big stage.”
Booker’s long-range accuracy was contagious. Paul, Crowder and Bridges drilled three points apiece as the Suns became just the third team in NBA history to make 20 or more in a playoff game. The Cleveland Cavaliers hit 24 in a 2017 game, and the Golden State Warriors sank 20 in a 2019 game.
As a team, the Suns rose to 20 for 40 from beyond the arc, overtaking the Bucks 60-27 in depth.
“We have a let-it-fly mentality,” said Williams. “I don’t think you have a choice. You have to adapt to trends and what makes your team successful. Our guys are working on it, and I tell them all the time, ‘If you’re working on it in practice, do it in the game. ‘”
Bridges finished with 27 points and Paul 23 for the Suns, who overcame 18 offensive Bucks rebounds and a 23-14 disparity in free throw attempts to secure their third straight 2-0 playoff advantage.
Crowder (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Ayton (10 points, 11 rebounds) made them five Suns starters with double-digit points.
Antetokounmpo, who also found time for 12 rebounds, a high, recorded the 25th game of 40 or more points by a player in a loss in the final. LeBron James did it last season for the fifth time.
Only his second game since his left knee hyperextended in the Eastern Conference final against the Atlanta Hawks, Antetokounmpo had 20 of his 42 points in the third quarter and 30 in the second half.
However, that was not enough for a team that was dominated 48.9% to 45.2% on the pitch.
The 42 points were one more than his previous playoff record, which Antetokounmpo set in the first round of 2019 in Detroit. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer expects him to improve in Milwaukee.
“I think he understands and I think he will be better in Game 3 – his conditioning, everything,” said Budenholzer. “He wants us to lean on him hard. He wants as much responsibility as we can give him, and that’s part of what makes him great.”
Holiday totaled 17 points, Connaughton 14 and Khris Middleton 11 for the Bucks, who went 7-1 at home in the playoffs.
Having never held a lead in the final 40 minutes of Game 1, the Bucks led by as much as nine points in the first half on Thursday before finally being buried in a 3-point Suns dam. .
Phoenix had 11 in the first half, which matches his number of 2 points. Crowder and Bridges each hit a trey in a 15-4 run in the 4:39 second quarter finals, turning a 41-point tie into a 56-45 advantage.
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