Phoenix, Arizona- Recap: While Sixers fans had hoped this was the year an NBA title was back in Philly; it was not meant to be. But there is a Philly angle in this year’s finals and a feel-good story. 28 long years. That is how long it has been since the Phoenix Suns went to their last NBA Finals. Back then they had their own ‘Big 3’ of Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, and 1993 NBA MVP Charles Barkley aka ‘Sir Charles’.
But last night there was a new big three that brought back memories of that ‘93 NBA Finals team with the likes of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. In his long-awaited debut in the NBA Finals Chris Paul did not disappoint with 32 points, 4 assists, 9 rebounds and 1 steal making history as one of only 3 NBA players that is 36 years of age to score 30+ points in a NBA Finals game. The other two are legends Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Tim Duncan.
DeAndre Ayton had a monster Game 1 with 22 points and 19 rebounds and with those figures, that puts him in rarified air with another Hall of Fame center that was under 23 years of age that logged double figure averages in points AND rebounds in their first NBA postseason — that person would be the late, great Moses Malone. Devin Booker who is also making his first NBA Finals appearance shined with 27 points, 6 assists and 3steals.
Philadelphia home grown product and Villanova standout Mikal Bridges had a very impressive showing with 14 points and the Bucks had trouble keeping up with him in the third quarter. On the other side of the court, it has been 50 years since Milwaukee won their only title. 2-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo looked good but was not 100 percent since he is still recovering from a hyperextended knee. The Alphabet finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
Not bad for a finals debut. Khris Middleton had 29 points, but it was not enough for the Bucks as they were pick-and-rolled mercilessly in the third quarter which left former Brooklyn Net Brook Lopez all by himself on an island where [Chris] Paul did his damage from the midrange. Lopez ended up with 17 points. Another ‘Nova standout Donte DiVincenzo did not suit up for the Finals due to a torn ligament that he suffered in the Miami series.
He will be missing the rest of the NBA Finals. The Bucks’ big three must play better or they could be going home down 0-2. Phoenix will be hosting Milwaukee in Game 2 of the Finals on Thursday night at p.m.