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Chris Paul, Suns beat Bucks in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (L) shoots over Milwaukee Bucks defender Pat Connaughton (R) during the second half in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals on Tuesday at Phoenix Suns Arena in Arizona. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (L) shoots over Milwaukee Bucks defender Pat Connaughton (R) during the second half in Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals on Tuesday at Phoenix Suns Arena in Arizona. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

July 6 (UPI) -- Appearing in the NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years, the Phoenix Suns cruised to a 118-105 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the championship series Tuesday at Phoenix Suns Arena in Arizona.

Suns guard Chris Paul recorded 32 points and nine assists in the first Finals game of his 16-year career. He scored 16 points during a remarkable run in the third quarter that ultimately propelled Phoenix to a 1-0 lead in the series.

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Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is set for Thursday night in Phoenix.

"We've been building all season long for these moments," Paul said. "We're going to keep playing. This is just one game. We've got to stay locked in."

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Paul's backcourt mate, Devin Booker, had 27 points and six assists in the win. Deandre Ayton continued his stellar play in the postseason with 22 points and 19 rebounds while shooting 80% from the field.

Mikal Bridges tallied 14 points, while Cameron Payne and Cam Johnson each contributed 10 points off the bench for the Suns.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, who returned from a two-game absence, notched 20 points and 17 rebounds for the Bucks. The two-time NBA MVP missed Milwaukee's previous two games because of a hyperextended left knee, which he suffered in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 29 points on 12-of-26 shooting. Brook Lopez had 17 points and six rebounds, and Jrue Holiday added 10 points.

The series opener was the first Finals game played in Phoenix since 1993, when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive championship in Game 6. The Suns, who hadn't reached the playoffs since 2010 before their current run, made their only other Finals appearance in 1976.

The Bucks also are making their third Finals appearance, having won a championship in 1971 before losing in 1974.

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