Milwaukee win Game 4 to even up finals series

The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns treated fans to the most exciting matchup of the NBA Finals to this point in Game 4 as the Bucks ultimately came out on top with a 109-103 hard-fought win at Fiserv Forum Wednesday night .

Devin Booker was phenomenal for the Suns as he finished with a game-high 42 points and made NBA history along the way as well. He was also involved in one of the most controversial plays of the night as he appeared to foul Jrue Holiday late in the fourth quarter, a foul that would have been his sixth of the game, which the officials seemingly disregarded. In the end, Booker’s offensive explosion wasn’t enough to overcome the Bucks as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton combined for 66 points to lead the charge for Milwaukee and, ultimately, help them even this series.

With the win, the Bucks carry all the momentum into Game 5 in Phoenix on Saturday night as this is now, essentially, a best-of-three series. Here are three takeaways from Milwaukee’s Game 4 win.

1. An all-time duel

Shaquille O’Neal and Allen Iverson. Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Jerry West and John Havlicek. Khris Middleton and Devin Booker. Those are the four sets of opposing players in NBA history to both score 40 points in an NBA Finals games. The first six were all obvious Hall of Famers. If the game they played tonight is any indication, Middleton and Booker are headed down that same path.

Neither was particularly impressive in a first quarter that included only 43 total points. They then combined for 21 in the second before Booker erupted for a staggering 18 in the third without missing a shot. At that point, it looked as if the night belonged to him. Middleton had other ideas. With Booker relegated to the bench due to foul trouble, Middleton scored 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. When Phoenix’s incredible defense took away all of their team-based actions, Middleton stepped into pick-and-roll jumpers that could not be denied. He …

Giannis Antetokounmpo goes for 40-10 again, Milwaukee rolls in Game 3

We have ourselves a series. After dropping the first two games in Phoenix, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a much-needed 120-110 win over the Suns in Game 3 at Fiserv Forum Sunday night. With the victory, the Bucks now trail 2-1 in the NBA Finals, which is much more manageable than 3-0 — a deficit that’s proven to be historically unsurmountable.

As they have been throughout the postseason, the Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 40-plus points for the second consecutive game. In all, Antetokounmpo finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes of action. It was an extremely impressive performance from the two-time MVP, but he also had his fair share of help. Jrue Holiday had 21 points, nine assists and five rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists of his own. Chris Paul led the way for Phoenix with 19 points and nine assists, and DeAndre Ayton added 18 points and nine rebounds, but ultimately their production wasn’t enough.

The win was a big one for the Bucks, and the loss was obviously disappointing for a Suns team that controlled the first two games of the series. Still, neither team can afford to dwell on it for too long as they have to prepare for Game 4 on Wednesday night. Here are four key takeaways from Milwaukee’s win over Phoenix in Game 3.

1. Giannis made some NBA history

Not only did Giannis Antetokounmpo propel the Bucks to a Game 3 win, but he also made some serious NBA history in the process. By finishing with 41 points and 13 rebounds, Antetokounmpo became just the second player ever to record 40-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in consecutive NBA Finals games. The only other player to do it was Shaquille O’Neal.

Antetokounmpo did a lot of his damage from the paint in Game 3. In fact, the 24 points that he scored in the paint tied the record for the most in a Finals game over the last …

Chris Paul, Phoenix sink Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee in Game 1

The Phoenix Suns are three wins away from a championship after a strong Game 1 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. The two sides were close for most of the first half before Phoenix pushed the lead as high as 20 in the third quarter. A furious Bucks comeback cut it back down to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Suns just would not be denied. They took Milwaukee’s punch and countered with several of their own, ultimately winning Game 1, 118-105.

Chris Paul led the way with yet another stellar postseason outing. He scored 32 points to lead the Suns, but Devin Booker wasn’t far behind with 27 of his own. Throw in Deandre Ayton’s 22-point, 19-rebound Finals debut and 20 combined bench points for Cameron Payne and Cameron Johnson and it was a complete team win for the Suns. Khris Middleton stood up to Phoenix’s star guards with 29 points of his own, but a still-recovering Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t quite match his typical MVP production. He scored 20 to go along with 17 rebounds in the loss, but played only 35 minutes and couldn’t be as aggressive in the paint as he usually is with 11 field goal attempts in the game.

Game 2 of the NBA Finals will be played on Thursday. A win in that game would take the Suns within two wins of the title, while a Milwaukee win would even up the series and give the Bucks home-court advantage. After the Game 1 we just watched, though, Milwaukee is going to need to make some serious adjustments to make that happen. For now, here are the biggest takeaways from Game 1.

Giannis looked decent, but not 100 percent

Physically, Giannis looked mostly like Giannis in Game 1 of the Finals. He caught a lob on the game’s opening play (though it was called off due to a foul). He overpowered Deandre Ayton in the post. If you squinted, you’d see the outline of the two-time MVP. Even in defeat, he …

Paul George drops 41 as Clippers coast past Suns 116-102 in Game 5

Paul George had a monster game with 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists and Marcus Morris chipped in 22 points with as the Clippers sent the series back to Los Angeles with a 116-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5. Devin Booker led the Suns with 31 points, but shot 9-22 from the floor. Chris Paul also struggled, managing 22 points on 8-19 shooting.

Reggie Jackson and DeMarcus Cousins were vital scoring contributors for the Clippers with 23 and 15, respectively. With Ivica Zubac sidelined, Los Angeles went with a smaller lineup for most of the game and found success.

The Clippers covered the spread at +5.5. The over hit at 214.5. Even with Kawhi Leonard sidelined, Los Angeles continues to strong good team basketball and deliver results.

The Clippers jumped out to a quick 22-10 lead behind Morris’ hot start. The Suns cut the deficit to six on Cameron Johnson’s jumper, but the Clippers held a 44-30 advantage before Phoenix really made a game out of it. The Suns rattled off 12 straight points to make it a 44-42 game and seemed to find their footing. Los Angeles held a 59-52 halftime lead.

The Clippers maintained this distance for much of the third quarter, but went on a 9-2 run to close out the quarter with a 91-78 lead. Los Angeles held its edge early in the fourth quarter, but the Suns went on a 9-3 spurt of their own to cut the gap to 98-94.

It would all Los Angeles from there. Jackson and George were responsible for a 14-2 run to break the game open and Phoenix never got back in the contest.

The Suns committed 14 turnovers, ultimately leading to their downfall. The Clippers also managed to contain Deandre Ayton, limiting him to 10 points and 11 rebounds. Los Angeles will likely continue to go small as the series progresses even if Zubac is healthy.

Game 6 is Wednesday in Los Angeles at 9:00 PM ET…

Paul George, Los Angeles climb back in Western finals with Game 3 win

The Clippers have overcome two separate 2-0 deficits in this postseason, and on Thursday, they took the first step toward doing it for a third time. After falling behind in the first half, the Clippers erupted in the second to win Game 3, 106-92. They will now have a chance to tie the series in Game 4 on Saturday.

Paul George led the Clippers with 27 points, but as has been the case so many times this postseason, it was Reggie Jackson who sealed the win with an incredible fourth quarter. He finished the game with 23 points to help make this a 2-1 series. The Suns, meanwhile, got very little out of their star guard tandem. Chris Paul and Devin Booker combined to shoot a horrific 10 of 40 from the field in the loss for Phoenix.

The Suns hadn’t lost a game since May 27, a staggering nine-game winning streak as they’d run roughshod over the Lakers, Nuggets, and for two games, the Clippers. L.A. fought back on Thursday, and on Sunday, will try to do so again by tying the series at two games apiece. For now, here are the biggest takeaways from Game 3.

A bad day for Phoenix’s guards

The Suns are so deep that they can usually overcome a stroke of bad luck or two. The first two games of this series encapsulated that. Phoenix won both games at home without Chris Paul because Devin Booker was dominant in Game 1 and Cameron Payne played the game of his life in Game 2. Well, let’s take a look at what happened in Game 3:

  • Paul returned to the lineup, but as he hasn’t played in 11 days and may or may not have had COVID-19, he was at the very least rusty. His conditioning and rhythm seemed affected by the layoff.
  • Booker played Game 3 in a facemask after Patrick Beverley head-butted him in Game 2. It would be unfair to attribute his struggles entirely to that mask. Beverley has defended him very well

Deandre Ayton, Phoenix win Game 2 with game-winner in final second

The Los Angeles Clippers came incredibly close to evening their series against the Phoenix Suns but just couldn’t pull it out. After Paul George missed two free throws with only eight seconds remaining to keep the Clippers’ lead at one, the Suns kept the ball after their missed game-winner attempt went out of bounds off of the Clippers. With only 0.9 seconds remaining, the Suns drew up a perfect lob pass to Deandre Ayton, who dunked it home for the win.

With Chris Paul out of the lineup yet again, the Suns received big-time performances from Cam Payne as well as he led all scorers with a game-high 29 points while Ayton poured in 22 points and 14 rebounds of his own with Devin Booker also contributing 20 points. On the other side, Paul George led the Clippers with 26 points but he needed to attempt 23 shots to reach that total. Not exactly the most efficient performance from Los Angeles’ lone All-Star in the lineup. In the end, it wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Following the loss, the Clippers now trail 0-2 for the third time this postseason. These two teams will meet again on Thursday night with the opening tip scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.

Here are three takeaways from Tuesday night’s game.

1. Free throw follies

Before Paul George stepped to the foul line with 8.2 seconds remaining and a chance to give the Clippers a one-point lead, he had already missed three free throws. That was highly out of character for him. George shot nearly 87 percent at the line this season. He didn’t miss his fifth free throw of the regular season until his 11th game. But after missing those two critical freebies in the final moments of Game 2, he closed the night a disappointing 5-of-10 at the line. In a one-point loss, any one of those shots could have sent this game to overtime. Two would’ve won it for them.

There are inevitably going to be those that point to George’s …

Devin Booker’s triple-double lifts Phoenix past Los Angeles in Game 1

While the story entering the game may have been focused on the players who were unavailable, Chris Paul and Kawhi Leonard, the story coming out of Game 1 will be the back and forth battle between Devin Booker and Paul George as the two went at it all day long in the Suns’ 120-114 victory.

Booker finished the win with the Suns’ first playoff triple-double since Steve Nash accomplished the feat in 2005. The All-Star guard was masterful on the offensive end recording 40 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 11 assists as he seemingly made the right play whenever Phoenix needed it. On the other side, George led the charge for the Clippers finishing the game with 34 points, five assists and four rebounds but, in the end, it wasn’t enough to overcome Booker and the rest of the Suns.

With the win, the Suns grab the early momentum in this series as they look to defend their home floor and put themselves in a position to advance to the NBA Finals. These two teams will meet again on Tuesday night with the opening tip scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.

Here are three main takeaways from Game 1.

1. The Devin Booker show

With the Suns up two points with 22 seconds left, Booker got the ball on an after-timeout-play, noticed there wasn’t a single Clippers player within spitting distance of him and drove to the rim for a two-handed dunk. The crowd roared and Booker just polished off a 40-point triple-double to carry the Suns to a Game 1 win. It was an exclamation mark on what Booker did over the course of the game, where he went toe-to-toe with each L.A. defender put in front of him and continuously just kept knocking down shots. The magic in it though is the fact that he was getting to his spots with ease.

They ran a high screen and roll, and Booker got to his spot at the elbow and knocked down mid-range jumpers left and right. …

Chris Paul, Phoenix take down Denver in Game 3 of series

The Phoenix Suns are one win away from a spot in the Western Conference finals. Following their 116-102 win over the Denver Nuggets on Friday night, Chris Paul and company are now on the verge of being one of the four teams left with a shot at the NBA title.

With the win, the Suns now move to a 3-0 lead in their series against the Nuggets and will have the chance to close things out on Sunday night when these two teams meet again in Game 4.


Chris Paul helps Phoenix dominate Denver in Game 2, take 2-0 series lead

The Phoenix Suns pulled out a dominant 123-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the second-round series. The victory was the fifth straight for Phoenix this postseason. Chris Paul led the way for the Suns with 17 points, 15 assists and zero turnovers. Paul’s assist-to-turnover ratio in the series is now a staggering 26-1. Devin Booker also added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the surging Suns.

Phoenix appeared to be a step faster than Denver on both ends of the floor in the second game, as it got virtually whatever it wanted on the offensive end while simultaneously making things difficult defensively for Denver. All five Suns starters scored in double figures,  compared to only two for the Nuggets’ first five. Freshly minted MVP Nikola Jokic paced the Nuggets with 24 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, but his production wasn’t nearly enough, especially with minimal help from the guys around him. Moving forward, Nuggets coach Mike Malone is going to have to figure out a way to get his team going, particularly Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr., who combined for just 17 points on 6-of-20 shooting in Game 2.

The only good news for the Nuggets right now is that the series if about to shift to Denver for Games 3 and 4. There, the Nuggets will obviously look to play better than they were able to do in Phoenix. Unfortunately for Denver, the math isn’t on its side. A total of 430 playoff series have started 2-0, and only 28 times has the team that gained the early advantage failed to win the series, per Land of Basketball. That’s less than seven percent of the time. The most recent example of this occurred in the first round this year, as the Los Angeles Clippers bested the Dallas Mavericks in seven games after dropping the first two games of the series. So, it’s not an impossible feat, but it is an unlikely one. The Nuggets …

Chris Paul, Phoenix dominate second half in Game 1 win over Denver

Game 1 between the Phoenix Suns and the Denver Nuggets was truly a tale of two halves. The teams played as competitive of a first half as any fan could have asked for but, then, Chris Paul and the Suns took control during the third quarter and never looked back as they came away with a 122-105 win.

All five of Phoenix’s starters scored in double figures, with four eclipsing the 20-point plateau, on their way to victory. Paul was fantastic, finishing the win with 21 points, 11 assists and six rebounds. He had plenty of help though as Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton combined for 64 points, 19 rebounds and 13 assists to help contribute to the Suns’ Game 1 win. On the other side, Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 22 points and nine rebounds but, in the end, his performance wasn’t enough to keep this game competitive down the stretch.

These two teams will meet again on Wednesday night as the opening tip of Game 2 is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET with TNT handling the broadcast.

Here are the three biggest takeaways from Phoenix’s Game 1 win.

1. He’s back

Yes, Chris Paul looked great in Game 4 of Phoenix’s first-round series against the Lakers, but his next two games were discouraging. He scored only 17 combined points on 33.3 percent shooting as the Suns closed out the Lakers, so there was no telling how he’d handle a more difficult test against a healthier Nuggets team. After scoring only five first-half points, it looked like his shoulder was still at considerably less than 100 percent.

Well, the second half should clear up any concerns. Chris Paul is healthy. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter alone, showing off his typical mid-range mastery after continuously managing to find the matchup he wanted (either Michael Porter Jr. or a big man) through pick-and-roll switch-hunting. He fired high-velocity passes all over the court and even looked faster than he did in the Lakers series. This was …

LeBron James, Los Angeles eliminated from playoffs by Phoenix

The Phoenix Suns have knocked off the defending champions as Chris Paul and company have bested the Los Angeles Lakers in their best-of-seven series following their 113-100 victory in Game 6 on Friday night.

In the end, the Lakers had no answer for the loss of Anthony Davis as Los Angeles found themselves facing an insurmountable lead after the All-Star big man was forced to leave the floor in the opening six minutes. While Los Angeles was faced with their own injury issues, the Suns took advantage of the situation as Devin Booker led all scorers with 47 points to ensure Phoenix would take care of their opponent in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs. This marked the first time that a team led by LeBron James had been eliminated in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

With the win, the Suns advance to face the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. Denver advanced out of their first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a win on Friday night. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Phoenix’s win.

Devin Booker has been compared to Kobe Bryant for pretty much his entire career. Like many of today’s young stars, Bryant mentored Booker. Their playing styles are eerily similar and grew more so this season. Booker took the most mid-range shots of his career this season. More important by Bryant’s reckoning would be the fact that Booker made the playoffs for the first time in his career.

He happened to do so against Bryant’s former team, and on Thursday, he delivered a performance that would have made his idol proud. Booker scored 47 points, including 22 in the first quarter alone, but the variety of shots and moves that led to them were what truly stood out. Booker made 8-of-10 3-point attempts. He killed the Lakers in the mid-range. Every time they started sneaking up on the Suns, Booker nailed a dagger to remind us how big the margin in this game really was.

It was a …