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The Suns Rode Scorching Hot Shooting To A 2-0 Series Lead Over The Bucks In The 2021 NBA Finals

The Phoenix Suns held serve in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals, riding a spectacular performance from Chris Paul and strong support from Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton to a double-digit victory at home. Just 48 hours later, the Suns hosted the Milwaukee Bucks for Game 2, with the visitors unquestionably entering with a sense of urgency as Mike Budenholzer’s team aimed to avoid a dreaded 0-2 deficit. In a back-and-forth affair that featured memorable moments on both sides, the Suns emerged victorious by a final score of 118-108 to take a 2-0 series advantage.

While Giannis Antetokounmpo returned in productive fashion for Game 1, the two-time NBA MVP wasn’t quite himself physically, but another stretch of treatment seemed to have its desired impact early in Game 2. He threw down a monster dunk on the first possession of the game and had two more dunks, plus a steal and a blocked shot, to spur the Bucks to an early lead.

Most of the first quarter occurred with reasonable flow, as the first foul of the game did not occur until the 2:49 mark of the first quarter. Phoenix kept their offense afloat with a whopping eight three-pointers on 14 attempts, with the Bucks out-scoring the Suns by a 20-0 margin in the paint during the entire opening period. The result was a three-point Milwaukee lead, even with Phoenix shooting just 1-for-9 inside the arc.

Early in the second quarter, the Suns enjoyed a period of sustained success, using a 9-2 run to take a 39-35 lead. Though a chase-down block from Jrue Holiday was notable, Phoenix’s energy was considerable, as evidenced by the the follow from Ayton in transition to force Milwaukee into a timeout.

The Bucks fought back to tie the game at 41-41, but the remainder of the first half went to Phoenix. The Suns closed the second quarter on a 15-4 run, capped by a beautiful possession that ended with a three-point play by Ayton to push their advantage to double-digits at halftime.

Phoenix was excellent on the offensive end in the first half, converting 11 three-pointers and deploying a balanced attack. Mikal Bridges led the way with 13 points, out-scoring Holiday and Khris Middleton combined, and the Suns held the Bucks to just 36 percent shooting and 4-for-16 from three-point distance.

In keeping with their first half showing, the Suns scored on the first four possessions after halftime, extending their lead to 15 points in a hurry. Then, however, Antetokounmpo settled into a rhythm, scoring 13 points in less than five minutes and giving the Bucks a jolt as they eventually cut the margin to five points.

Phoenix closed the third quarter in improved fashion, though, and they had control of the proceedings as a result. Despite the best efforts of Antetokounmpo (who scored 20 points in the period), the Suns led by 10 points with 12 minutes to go, with Milwaukee’s supporting cast combining to shoot a hideous 33.9 percent from the floor through three quarters.

The Bucks did start the fourth quarter well, as they continued to ride Antetokounmpo’s individual brilliance on both ends. After a highlight-worthy block, Milwaukee climbed back within five.

In on-brand fashion, the Suns continued to make big shots, taking advantage of Milwaukee’s struggles outside of Antetokounmpo. Booker made two more three-pointers in timely fashion, giving Phoenix a 13-point lead with 7:18 on the clock.

The Bucks did make one final push, scoring seven straight points right as things were teetering. That brought Milwaukee within a six-point margin at 103-97 with plenty of time to continue their comeback.

Milwaukee then had a three-pointer in the air that would’ve cut the deficit to three, but that was as close as the Bucks would get. The backbreaker may have been a possession in which the Suns generated two offensive rebounds before Paul buried a triple and, after a stop, the Suns scored again to take an 11-point edge and effectively put the game on ice.

Phoenix’s lead never dipped below eight points in the final seconds, and it was another resilient performance for the home team. The three-point line was heavily responsible for the Suns’ success, as they were 20-for-40 from beyond the arc. Phoenix also produced 26 assists, illustrating their ball movement, and they put together a strong defensive effort.

Individually, Booker led the way with 31 points, six assists and five rebounds, with Paul adding 23 points and eight assists. Bridges also enjoyed a breakout moment, scoring 27 points, grabbing seven rebounds and flashing his tremendous defensive upside.

For the Bucks, Antetokounmpo was brilliant from wire-to-wire. He finished with 42 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in just his second game back from a significant knee issue, and his performance shouldn’t be overlooked despite the result. Milwaukee struggled from three-point range (9-for-31) as a team, and the duo of Holiday and Middleton combined to shoot just 12-for-37 from the floor and 2-for-9 from deep.

With the win, the Suns improve to 13-0 during the playoffs when leading by double figures at any point, and they also take further control of the series. It is often noted that the series doesn’t begin until the home team loses but, for Phoenix, home wins would be enough, and the Bucks have no margin for error as they return home for Game 3 on Sunday evening.

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