Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Chris Paul leads balanced offence as big second-half run helps Suns comfortably clinch Game 1

Make that four straight postseason wins for the Phoenix Suns as they rode the momentum from the first round into Game 1 of the Conference Semifinals against the Denver Nuggets.

Led by their starters, who combined for 99 of their total points, the young team flipped the game on its head with a huge second-half run and eventually cruised to a 122-105 win to take a 1-0 series lead.

Bridges scored a game-high 23 points, 13 of which came in the third quarter, Chris Paul finished with his double-double of the postseason with 21 points (14 in the fourth) and 10 assists while Devin Booker added 21 points and eight assists.

For the Nuggets, five players finished in double figures led by their NBA MVP frontrunner Nikola Jokic - 22 points, nine rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks.

Here's a quick look at the takeaways from this one:

Game-changing 39-12 run

For much of the first 2.5 quarters of this game, the Nuggets were in front. They didn't run away with it but were ahead for the majority of that time.

However, supported by a vocal crowd in Phoenix, the Suns turned things around in the second half with their defence.

Over an approximately 11-minute period in the second half, they went on a 39-12 run which helped them turn a 72-63 deficit to a 102-84 lead.

Multiple players stepped up in the run but Mikal Bridges was the catalyst to it all in the third quarter. He scored or assisted on 12 of the team's last 25 points in the period which included 16 unanswered.

Ayton wins matchup with Jokic

The opposing big man to Jokic, Deandre Ayton played exactly the same number of minutes - 35:05 and surprisingly, the Suns' young center won the contest.

En route to recording the fifth double-double of his debut playoffs, Ayton held Jokic to 10-of-22 shooting from the field and forced him to commit four of Nuggets' 12 turnovers.

For perspective, Jokic has an average shooting efficiency of 52.8 percent from the field and 2.7 turnovers in the 2021 playoffs.

Nuggets supporting cast steps up in vain

With Jokic struggling, by his lofty standards, Denver were competitive early on because their supporting cast stepped up.

For the game, three starters in Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Facundo Campazzo combined for 47 points on 19-of-36 shooting (52.8 percent) from the field while contributing across the board.

Gordon and Campazzo contributed a little more, combining for eight assists and five steals as well. Off the bench, JaMychal Green finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes while veteran Paul Millsap racked up a quick nine points in 12 minutes of court time.

It will always be difficult to fill the hole left by the absences of Jamal Murray and Will Barton. Denver will need a repeat performance from their supporting cast just to stay competitive in the contest.

What's next?

The Suns took care of business in Game 1 and they will look to win their fifth straight playoff games when both teams suits up once again for Game 2 on

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