It didn’t start off great for the Phoenix Suns in Game 2, as they were attacked in the paint to the tune of 20 points in the first quarter, and they answered with 0.
The confident Suns didn’t let that faze them, though, as they found an effective counter to the inside attack by making a ton of threes. The Bucks had a 26-14 advantage in paint points at halftime, but the Suns shot 11 of 24 from three while the Bucks made 4 of 16 of their threes.
Unlike Game 1, the Suns didn’t shoot a lot of free throws. They shot a single free throw in the first half, and they finished the game shooting 12 of 14 from the charity stripe, while the Bucks shot 15 of 23.
The free throw disparity didn’t end up mattering, as the Suns completed a 20-point turnaround by halftime, erasing a 9-point Bucks lead and turning it into a 56-45 halftime lead. They would never relinquish the lead.
Jae Crowder, who only scored a single point in Game 1, got it going early compared to Game 1, and shot 3 of 4 from deep at halftime. He finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists and steal. Mikal Bridges picked up the scoring load for the Suns early on, he was the leading scorer at halftime with 13 points. He finished with a career playoff high of 27 points and 7 rebounds.
The Suns’ star of the second half, though, was Devin Booker, who seemed to come up big whenever the Bucks started to look like they might go on a big run.
For example, when Milwaukee cut it to 71-66 halfway through the third quarter, Booker hit an assist to Chris Paul for a three, and then made a sweet bank shot to push the lead back to 76-66. A few moments later, he answered a Pat Connaughton three with one of his own, and then quickly hit a 9-foot jumper to make it 81-71 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
Booker was composed in the second half and was happy to be the guy to make the big buckets in crucial moments. He had 10 points at halftime and had 22 heading into the fourth quarter before finishing with 31 points. He also worked hard on defense, and attacked Antetokounmpo and forced him to take free throws whenever he had the opportunity.
When the Bucks cut it to 90-84 with 10:03 left, Booker hit another three. The Bucks then answered again to make it 93-88 with 8:30 left, but Booker hit a pair backbreaking of threes in the span of 31 seconds with make it a 101-88 game with 7:18 left on the clock.
That was Booker’s last basket of the game, but the damage had already been done. The Bucks never managed to fully recover, and even when they made it a 103-97 game with 5:15 left, Booker’s teammates stepped up to help close the game.
Antetokounmpo looked solid again in his second game back from his hyperextended knee. He already had 12 points and 8 rebounds at halftime, and continued his onslaught in the third quarter as he scored 20 in the period. He was the only reason that the Bucks were in the game, and he finished with 42 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and a block.
The Bucks’ rebounding failed them in the last three minutes of the game, and they allowed too many second chance opportunities for the Suns. Bridges hit a pair of free throws to make it 112-102 with 1:08 late in the game that effectively put it out of reach.
Chris Paul wasn’t as efficient with his ball distribution, as he had six turnovers for the game, but he still finished with 23 points, 4 rebounds and 8 assists while shooting 10 of 20 from the field in another key performance in his 16th season. DeAndre Ayton was again quietly solid across the board with 10 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
All five starters score in double digits, showing how well the Suns moved the ball around. Phoenix continued their streak of winning all of the games they’d led in the playoffs by double digits.
It wasn’t all good news for the Suns, though. One game after losing Dario Saric to an ACL tear, the Suns had to deal with another injury scare after Torrey Craig had to be carried to the locker room after he took a charge from Giannis Antetokounmpo at the end of the third quarter and hurt his right leg.
All things considered, the Suns will be happy with the 2-0 lead they now possess in the 2021 NBA Finals. Even more important is how they were soundly beaten in the paint by the end of the game, as the Bucks outscored them 54-28 in that department, but still came up with a solid win.
For Devin Booker, who carries a lot of inspiration from the late Kobe Bryant, this game will feel sweet. His killer instinct was on display when it mattered, and his 31 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 10 of 25 shooting (7 of 11 from three), will only feed his confidence more.