One down, three more to go.
Making their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1993, the Phoenix Suns held off the Milwaukee Bucks 118-105 on Tuesday to grab a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Former Arizona Wildcat Deandre Ayton was critical in the victory, logging 22 points and 19 rebounds on 7-of-9 shooting. It’s his fourth straight double-double and 12th in the postseason. Ayton has grabbed 15 or more rebounds in six of them, tied for fourth-most for a player in his first postseason, per ESPN Stats and Info. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton and Bill Russell have more.
Per the ESPN broadcast, Ayton is also the first player to record at least 15 points and 15 rebounds in his NBA Finals debut since Tim Duncan on June 16, 1999. Ayton’s 19 rebounds also tied Charles Barkley for the most ever by a Suns player in an NBA Finals game. Barkley needed 53 minutes to do it. Ayton? 39.
There’s this too:
Bill Russell— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) July 7, 2021
The only players with 20+ PTS, 15+ REB, 80+ FG% in a Finals game in the shot clock era (since 1955).
(H/T @statmuse) pic.twitter.com/7r5IZh0Kg6
“Runs, rolls and rebounds,” ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said of Ayton during the broadcast. “Keeps it simple and has been dominant.”
Ayton’s appearance marked the seventh straight year at least one Arizona Wildcat has played in the NBA Finals. Former UA head coach Sean Miller was at the game, too.
What do think Sean Miller is looking up on his phone at the Suns game?? pic.twitter.com/xoE2Lc6VSn— BearDownU.com (@BearDownU) July 7, 2021
Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday, July 8 at 6 p.m. PT on ABC.
Just can’t get beyond how incredible Deandre Ayton has been in these playoffs. 16 points and 12 rebounds a night while shooting 71% entering tonight.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 7, 2021
Then in his first NBA Finals game, has 22 points and 19 rebounds while shutting down the interior. Unreal for a 22 year old.