Phoenix Suns: 3 best ‘I knew it’ thoughts from a great Game 1 win

Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Phoenix Suns, Devin Booker (Photo by Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Phoenix Suns opened their first NBA Finals series since 1993 with a resounding, convincing 118-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

It was an event made even sweeter because of the long, dark days of the franchise’s recent history.

Three big revelations emerged that applied in real time but also for the rest of this series. But Suns fans already knew about the elite traits belonging to this team.

Phoenix Suns takeaway No. 1: Devin Booker and Chris Paul showed which team has the better duo.

Suns fans have seen that Devin Booker snarl and stink-eye stare.

Booker finished the first quarter with 12 points, three assists and two rebounds, he led all scorers with 16 points at the half. He finished with 27 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line.

Does a great player look to score or does he look to involve his teammates first? Tonight, Booker did both — and did them effectively.

Come on. Is there anything this 24-year-old does anymore that surprises you? His playmaking was punctuated with a lob to Deandre Ayton with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter.

His great start was a lethal combination of passing and pushing the pace.

It didn’t slow much, except when Chris Paul took the baton from Booker and, after a scoreless first quarter, rolled over the Bucks, finishing with 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting to complement nine assists.

Paul, in his first NBA Finals at age 36, didn’t score until the second quarter.

And he didn’t slow down much.

Booker’s 3 with seven minutes remaining and his jumper at 3:30 to go underscored his ultimate fearlessness.

Need a closer? The Suns have two of the elite closers in sports.

Phoenix Suns takeaway No. 2: The game plan to force the action and not settle for jump shots worked to perfection

And, speaking of perfection, the Suns did not miss a free throw until their final attempt.

Their 25 consecutive free throws to start the game stand as an NBA Finals record. And then Jae Crowder missed.

But Phoenix still made 16 more  than the Bucks made.

The Suns forced the action, drawing fouls and hitting free throws. When the Bucks adjusted midway through the second quarter, the threes were available.

The Suns were built carefully and are now operating like a real machine.

When Booker worked the high screen switch to bring out Brook Lopez in isolation, he has 16 different ways to score. Tonight, he refused to settle for a long 3-point try in the first half. So, 15 different ways to beat Lopez.

Phoenix Suns takeaway No. 3: The moment was not too big for the young, hungry Suns

Cam Johnson was aggressive on both ends: He stone-cold buried his first 3-point try, and then hit his first triple to start the second quarter. No fear.

He also had a key steal when defending Giannis in the fourth quarter and proved he can thrive in this environment.

Deandre Ayton. Deandre Ayton! He drew comparisons with Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That sounds like a pretty convincing Finals debut.

Playing with a controlled determination, Ayton was a measured presence throughout, and 22 points with 19 rebounds showed he conceded very little to Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Put simply, the Suns’ Nos. 4-9 options are so much better than those of their playoff opponents. Mikal Bridges returned to form — in a big way. Jae Crowder was epic tough (though he couldn’t shoot it tonight), the Cams were outstanding and Torrey Craig was his usual reliable, rebounding force.

The problem going forward is Dario Saric’s right knee injury.

He left with 1:43 remaining in the second quarter and didn’t return.

ABC’s Jeff Van Gundy: “And that’s why guys like Frank Kaminsky have to be ready to go.”

Suns fans: “Uh, no, Jeff.”

And, nope, says Monty Williams after using Kaminsky for a few unproductive minutes. Torrey Craig is the move here. We’re not in desperation mode.

The moment was not too big for any of the Suns, really.

The Suns are in a good place right now, and unless Khris Middleton, Giannis and Jrue Holiday can start having huge games at the same time, the Bucks are in trouble.