Monty Williams: Paul, Booker, Ayton Deserve ‘A Lot of Credit’ for Playing Together

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 7, 2021

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul smiles at the crowd after Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Bucks 118-105. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

The Phoenix Suns' big three of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton combined for 81 points, 27 rebounds and 15 assists in a 118-105 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday.

After the game, Suns head coach Monty Williams spoke about how there were some questions about how the trio would play together before crediting them for the work they put in to get to this point.

"There was some gray area as to how to help those guys play together," Williams said, per Mark Medina of USA Today. "I think those three deserve a lot of credit for the time that they spent after practice talking about certain environments."

Paul added his thoughts on his chemistry with Ayton in particular, per Medina: "We do this so often and have seen about every coverage we have possibly seen. So it's second nature."

The Suns' big three significantly outplayed the Bucks' big three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday in Game 1, as Josh Eberley of HOOP noted:

Josh Eberley🇨🇦 @JoshEberley

Phoenix is deeper and their role players are better. So Giannis/Middleton/Jrue have to outplay Paul/Booker/Ayton and it wasn’t even close tonight.<br><br>Bucks big 3:<br>22-51 (43%), 11 turnovers<br><br>Suns big 3:<br>28-50 (56%), 5 turnovers

Paul left many people in awe after his 32-point, nine-assist performance. He scored 16 of those points in the Suns' 35-point third quarter.

Booker posted 27 points and outscored Milwaukee on his own from the free-throw line, 10-9. He also added three steals.

Ayton dominated down low en route to 22 points and 19 rebounds. He made 8-of-10 field goals and nailed all six of his free throws.

It was a great NBA Finals debut for each player, and now the Suns will look for a great follow-up performance when they host the Bucks for Game 2 of the best-of-seven series on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.