Athleticism often leads to wins in the NBA playoffs, especially steals, blocks and simple hustle that does not show up in the box score. Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Finals showed how a game can simply be decided on the foul line.
The Phoenix Suns got to the stripe 26 times, more noteworthy is that they made 25 of their attempts which went a long ways to securing a comfortable 118-105 win. On the other hand the Milwaukee Bucks only got 16 free throw attempts, 12 of those were from Giannis Antetokounmpo who made seven; about par for the course these days. Only Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez made it to the line, Holiday sank both his attempts while Lopez went 0-2. "It is a huge part of the game," Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said. "They had 25 points from the free throw line. We are a team that prides itself on being able to be good defensively without fouling." Although he scored 27 points in 42 minutes, Phoenix's Devin Booker excelled even more on the defensive side Tuesday, stifling defending Milwaukee shooters to 1 for 11 on the night and recording three steals. On both sides of the ball Phoenix dominated, and for the third consecutive series the Bucks were humbled in Game 1. The good news for Milwaukee is Antetokounmpo played and showed no ill effects from his hyperextended left knee. That said, the oddsmakers are even more confident in the Suns, installing them as 5.5 point favorites in Game 2. It is not do or die for Milwaukee, who were in a 2-0 hole against Brooklyn after being annihilated in Game 2. But obviously the Bucks will need to steal a game in Phoenix to have a chance of winning a NBA Championship.