PHOENIX, Arizona (Diya TV) — Led by Chris Paul’s 32 points, the Phoenix Suns emerged victorious in Game 1 in their effort to claim their first NBA crown. Playing consistently throughout the game, the Suns never trailed after the first quarter. In the third quarter, they outscored the Bucks by 8 and created a 16 point differential, which proved too much to overcome.
Chris Paul’s first Finals appearance was one with its ups and downs. He did not score in the first quarter, but came on strong in the second and third quarters: 27 of his 32 points came during that time frame. Notably, he hit all 4 of his 7 3-pointers then as well. When asked about the slump, he commented, “I just missed my first couple shots. I think that’s the way that we play. Book got it going. I think Book had 12 in the first quarter. That’s just the way our team is. It’s not just one guy that we depend on.”
Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, in their Finals debut as well, played incredibly well. With 12 points in the first quarter, as Paul mentioned, Booker kept Phoenix in the game during the first quarter. His 27 points and 10/10 free throw shooting gave the Suns the scoring boost they needed throughout the game. Ayton rounded out the Suns with much-needed contributions. With 22 points and 19 rebounds, he became the first player to score at least 15 points and get at least 15 rebounds in their Finals debut since 1999, which was done by no other than Tim Duncan. He also shot at 80%, which made him the second player to have 20+ points, 15+ rebounds, and an 80%+ shooting percentage in the finals, accompanied only by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. As he joins elite company, Ayton’s performance in the rest of the series will be one to watch.
When asked about their team chemistry, Ayton remarked, “It’s just the respect level. Like you say, we all got on each other, had candid conversations where we had to adjust. But candid conversations leads to wins, and it started to be great communication and constructive criticism and we just all take it into a positive and play together.” Overall, the Suns tapped into their teamwork to cement a Game 1 victory.
The question leading up to the game was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s health, after he hyperextended his knee during the Eastern Conference Finals. A gametime decision, Giannis did start and put up 20 points and 17 boards. While the performance was not at the level of his typical performances, he vindicated his injury of any concern, describing, “I’m trying my best to not make it about my knee, but I’m going to say one more time that my knee felt good.” It is worth noting that Giannis was the only starter on the Bucks to have a positive +/-, which considering his 35 minutes, is commendable.
Instead, Khris Middleton led the Bucks in scoring, putting up 29 points and playing 44 out of the 48 minutes. Brook Lopez significantly contributed as well, scoring 17 and guarding Chris Paul. When asked about the defense, he commented, “But he hit tough shots. That’s what he does. That’s what he’s done his whole career and he did that tonight.”
The Bucks’ defensive strategy tonight was largely reliant on switching, in an effort to disrupt the Suns’ rhythm. However, it was less effective than planned, with the Suns getting 20 fast-break points. Mike Budenhozer, the Bucks’ coach, stated, “I think we have to just keep getting better. We have to keep looking at the film and see how we can maybe take away some of the rhythm, or make it where he’s not getting into his spots as easily. That will be a big part of looking between Game 1 and Game 2.”
In the end, the Bucks’ mentality is “trying to learn from it and keep moving forward,” as Giannis put it in his postgame interview. Series are often a rollercoaster, and this is just the beginning. We will see if the Bucks can counter in kind or if the Suns continue their hot streak. Game 2 of this fiery matchup is Thursday night.
India Rising puts forth valiant effort in loss to Boeheim’s Army in TBT
SYRACUSE (Diya TV) — With The Basketball Tournament commencing, most eyes have been set on Boeheim’s Army and their path to repeating as champions. However, their first match provided an opponent true to its name: India Rising.
While one may look at the 90-62 score and disregard the India Rising squad, when watching the game, the team did truly give Boeheim’s Army a run for their money in the first half. Facing a team full of guys who played under one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, Jim Boeheim, India Rising jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and was able to keep pace with Boeheim’s Army for a substantial amount of time. Most people may have written them off early but they kept fighting. They had a clear cut goal to bring attention to basketball players of Indian descent by pulling off a cinderella win and carve a path for themselves. It is clear that they put in their full effort to try and realize those goals.
In the second half, Boeheim’s army was able to pull away but India Rising had made their message clear: Indian ballers should not be overlooked. The box score does not paint the real picture of how much heart, determination, and grit India Rising displayed to get more recognition. General manager Gautam Kapur and head coach Ajay Sharma have done an excellent job overseeing the initiative and giving the best Indian hoopers a chance to shine on a big stage.
In a 64 team tournament, India Rising stood out and gave a near-professional squad a tough time. For what this team set out to achieve, no heads should be hung low. India Rising should be getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
Warriors win Game 5 at home, now just one game away from the title
SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —The Golden State Warriors are just one win away from their fourth title in eight years. The Dubs returned home and overpowered the Boston Celtics 104-94 to take a 3-2 series lead, even though Stephen Curry only scored 16. Infact, Curry did not make a single three, a first in the last 3.5 years. Andrew Wiggins on the other hand matched Tatum while scoring a team-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds, including the dagger dunk to finish off Boston.
Draymond Green saw glimpses of a turnaround game as he was very close to a triple double before fouling out for the 3rd time in this series. Klay Thompson made a great contribution on the offensive end with 21 points, on the third anniversary of his horrific injury in the finals against the Cavaliers in 2019 . The Warriors trio of Curry, Thompson and Green were able to cement themselves even further with their 20th Finals win together, the most of any trio over the past 30 years.
The Celtics saw franchise star Jayson Tatum have a better game scoring wise than the last game with a team-high 27 points. But while Tatum showed up for game 5, Jaylen Brown did not. When both of those players are on at the same time, the Celtics can light it up. However, there has been inconsistency from both throughout the Finals. The C’s will need both guys to be on for them to fend off the Dubs and force a Game 7.
The Warriors can close out the series and add a 7th ring to their collection with a win on Thursday in the hostile environment of TD Garden. A collective team effort would do the trick as in Game 4, Curry shouldered the load while the rest of his supporting cast did the same for him. The Celtics will look to put forth their best effort of the season in a final effort to keep their season alive. It could very well come down to if both Tatum and Brown can prove they can be a dynamic duo on the biggest stage.
Warriors seal Game 4 victory with an epic Steph Curry performance, tie series 2-2
BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Warriors, seal Game 4 victory with a vintage Stephen Curry performance, evened up the NBA Finals in an absolute thriller, winning 107-97.
The start of the game saw both teams match each other pound for pound with Boston ultimately taking the first quarter by a single point. There were notions before the game about Curry having a foot sprain, but he quickly laid those doubts to rest. He began to heat up in the first quarter (and talked some trash along the way). Conversely, Draymond Green continued his finals performance with more fouls than points. Robert Williams III showed off his skills as a rim protector on defense, which was a missing piece for the Celtics up until the point of Williams’ return. In the first half, Curry and Jayson Tatum battled against each other in classic star matchup fashion with Curry scoring 19 and Tatum going for 16. Tatum was money from beyond the arc (made 3 out of his 4 three-point attempts), just like he’s been all Finals as he’s been shooting 48% on 3’s.
The officiating in the first half was questionable, especially in the second quarter when Payton Pritchard clearly traveled and yet a foul was called instead. This set off Warriors HC Steve Kerr and his temper led to him getting a technical foul. For a non-call to be that egregious and then to double down by giving Kerr the technical foul is asinine and something that certainly sparked controversy. Attention was also brought to the Celtics free throw attempts versus the Warriors (15 and 5 respectively) even with both teams attacking the basket often. Despite this disparity, the Warriors were able to keep it within 5 at the end of the half.
More Curry magic continued in the second half with him carrying the team on his back, in essence. 43 points highlight the stat line but when watching the game, it was clear as day that he was really the only dependable source of scoring throughout the ballgame for the Dubs. With 7 threes made tonight, we saw the greatest shooter in league history go to work and will his team to victory. In the biggest stage of basketball, Curry made his mark once again.
The Celtics now face a daunting Game 5 heading to San Francisco. Winning both games on their home court would have all but sealed a championship for them. But now, the door has not only creaked, but swung wide open. The #1 defense in the NBA will gameplan to try and find answers for Curry. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be facing a challenging environment in Chase Center, but one they are familiar with.
Meanwhile, the Warriors will look to capitalize off the momentum and adrenaline this win has given them. Off the heels of a classic performance, Curry will try to carry on his titanium-strong Finals MVP case. Draymond Green, coming back to friendly faces in San Francisco, will try to turn around an awful stretch. This series is shaping up to be a dramatic one with both teams trading blows. Game 5 should deliver more popcorn-worthy entertainment, especially if Stephen Curry is involved.
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