Editor's note: This web story will not be updated after the conclusion of Game 2 Thursday night.
PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix Suns have never been closer to an NBA title. Devin Booker scored 31 points, Chris Paul had 23 and the Suns beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-108 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead.
The Suns surged ahead late in the first half, withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s all-around effort to bring the Bucks back, and walked off winners again as fans swung orange rally towels all around them.
Antetokounmpo finished with 42 points and 12 rebounds in his second game back after missing two games with a hyperextended left knee. Game 3 is Sunday in Milwaukee.
CHASING A CHAMPIONSHIP: MORE COVERAGE:
- NBA Finals Schedule Set: Here's When To Watch The Bucks
- Bucks To Open Fiserv Forum For Watch Parties During Away Games
- Street Closures, Parking Restrictions In Place During NBA Finals Games
- NBA Finals Tickets For Fiserv Forum Averaging $750
- 50 Years Later: An Oral History Of The 1971 Championship Bucks
10:04 p.m. -- Bucks down 10 points headed into 4th quarter
The Bucks managed to cut into the Suns' lead slightly in the third quarter, but are still down 10 with just one quarter to go.
9:53 p.m. -- Special guests at Game 2 in Phoenix
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Governor Doug Ducey are taking in the Bucks and the Suns in Phoenix tonight!
(📸: Associated Press)
9:11 p.m. -- Bucks down double digits at the half
The Bucks were outscored by 14 points in the second quarter, and are now down 11 points at halftime.
8:54 p.m. -- Deer District bringing the noise once again for Game 2
Milwaukee, you are loud!
8:37 p.m. -- Bucks hold small lead after first quarter
After one quarter of play, Milwaukee leads Phoenix 29-26.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and P.J. Tucker lead the Bucks with 7 points each. Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, and Mikal Bridges each have 6 points for the Suns.
Meanwhile, the Suns hit 8 three-point shots in the first quarter, just one shy of an NBA Finals record.
8:17 p.m. -- Bucks hot from the floor so far
The Bucks have started hot shooting from the floor so far. They started 7 for 12, although oddly that came without any three-point attempts.
The #Bucks off to a hot start. 7-12 from the floor and 0 3’s. Already 12 points in the paint to lead 14-9— Lance Allan (@lanceallan) July 9, 2021
8:04 p.m. -- Coach's dad wants Bucks to press, Giannis likes the idea
If Vince Budenholzer had his way, the Milwaukee Bucks would start guarding Chris Paul the minute he walked into the arena.
Mike Budenholzer grew up in Holbrook, Arizona, where his father was a state championship-winning high school coach. The Bucks coach said his father wants to see the NBA team use a high school strategy.
Budenholzer says: “He wants us to press every minute of every game." Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo says he thinks that sounds like good advice. Budenholzer says even though the Bucks don't press, he thinks it's important that teams compete and are aggressive.
7:35 p.m. -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar picks Bucks to win NBA Finals in six
One of the NBA's all-time greats has weighed in on this year's finals, picking the Bucks to emerge victorious in six games. Of course, that may not be a huge surprise, as Kareem of course played for the Bucks when they won their only title - 50 years ago in 1971.
7:16 p.m. -- Bucks fans show off their "mean mugs" for Game 2
Digital Reporter James Groh is in the Deer District tonight, and he went on a mission to capture as many "mean mugs" as he could, in honor of the Greek Freak himself. Check out the best shots here.
6:53 p.m. -- Deer District starting to fill up
Less than an hour after our last update, the Deer District is now starting to fill up with fans. We're expecting another crowd of 20,000 outside here tonight, with another 9,000 or so inside Fiserv Forum.
6:10 p.m. -- Superfans show up to Deer District early
At the same time the players are going through their first warm ups, the die-hard fans at the Deer Distict outside Fiserv Forum already have their spots. Joseph and Sandy are two regulars that Digital Reporter James Groh always sees at watch parties.
A shoutout to these two die hard Bucks fans. Joseph and Sandy always show up WAY before everyone else. pic.twitter.com/KrWbYCZwZl— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) July 8, 2021
5:58 p.m. -- Giannis warms up ahead of Game 2
Everyone was amazed when Giannis was able to return for Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Now he's been removed from the injury report entirely, and is on the court warming up ahead of Game 2 at 8 p.m.:
5:54 p.m. -- Khris Middleton on the court for practice ahead of Game 2
First Milwaukee Bucks player on the court tonight? Khris Middleton, our Lance Allan reports.
5:10 p.m. -- Milwaukee native turns Bucks fandom into passion project
A homegrown writer moved away from Milwaukee more than a decade ago, but his love for the team never faded. He decided to turn his Bucks fandom into a passion project and his blog now has followers from around the world.
Growing up in Milwaukee, Mitchell Maurer said his two passions collided while he was a student at St. Thomas More High School. In 2001, Mitchell had just witnessed the Milwaukee Bucks make a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Meantime, his love for writing grew each day in the classroom.
“As things kind of, from that team, fell off, I got really intrigued specifically because they weren’t favorites,” he said.
His two hobbies became one when he left Milwaukee to attend college on the east coast, where Bucks games were hard to find on TV. At the time, the Bucks weren’t the best.
“They had a little bit of an underdog vibe to them and that was something that I appreciated,” he said.
3:49 p.m. -- NBA Finals ticket prices soaring: $750 on average
Ticket prices for the NBA Finals games here in Milwaukee are soaring. Standing room only tickets are selling on Ticketmaster for near $400 a piece. Second-hand tickets range from the high $300s to more than $27,000 for court side seats.
Local ticket broker John Lamoreaux of TicketKing says the average price for a seat right now is $750.
"There’s pent up demand, and people are looking for things to do and get out, and what better way to get out than an NBA Finals and a Bucks game,” said Lamoreaux.
2:13 p.m. -- Racine's Monument Square will transform into 'Deer District Racine' for remaining NBA Finals games
Bucks fans who don't quite live close enough to make the drive to Fiserv Forum will soon have another option to gather and watch the game together.
Racine's Monument Square will become "Deer District Racine" for the remainder of the NBA Finals, Mayor Cory Mason announced Thursday.
Pub on Wisconsin will provide TVs to watch the game, Littleport Brewing Company will be selling drinks, and bags and other lawn games will be available for folks to play.
Residents are encouraged to grab some takeout from their favorite downtown restaurant, and bring it to Deer District Racine. Free Wi-Fi is available as well, so if you want to bring your own device and stream the game you can. Read the full story here.
1:41 p.m. -- Indoor Fiserv Forum watch party sold out for Game 2
If you don't already have tickets to join the watch party inside Fiserv Forum for Game 2, you'll need to make other plans - it's completely sold out.
Luckily, there are plenty of other options - including space for about 20,000 outside the arena in the Deer District. Watch parties have also popped up at Bayshore Mall, in Racine's Monument Square, and elsewhere. Read the full story here.
SOLD OUT! If you don't already have tickets to the Game 2 watch party inside Fiserv Forum tonight, you'll need to make other plans. More at https://t.co/SmiTKpYEBF #FearTheDeer pic.twitter.com/WhiWfGDPdB— TMJ4 News (@tmj4) July 8, 2021
12:44 p.m. -- Ratings up for NBA Finals Game 1
Apparently people like watching the Bucks! Viewership for Game 1 was up 13 percent over 2020's contest (Heat vs. Lakers), according to ESPN's Ben Cafardo. We'll see if that trend continues to hold throughout the rest of the series.
🆙Viewership for ABC's NBA Finals Game 1 was up double digits - 13% - vs last year (Nielsen)— Ben Cafardo (@Ben_ESPN) July 8, 2021
🏀The Suns win over the Bucks drew 8,560,000 viewers, peaking w/ nearly 10 mil from 11:15-11:30 p.m.
📺ABC won the night across all of TV and in all key demoshttps://t.co/K2EX5paUp4
11:33 a.m. -- This song about Bucks folk hero Bobby Portis will get you hyped for Game 2
Milwaukee Bucks fans have fallen in love with Bobby Portis throughout the NBA playoffs, and now there's finally a song that pays tribute to our city's new folk hero.
Bobby Portis (Remix) by Jeez Louise is all you'll need to get hyped for Thursday night's Game 2 - it's a loving tribute to the man who brings an explosion of energy whenever he's on the court.
Listen to the song below:
10:48 a.m. -- With Suns' stars rolling, Bucks must be better in NBA Finals
PHOENIX (AP) — At their best, the Phoenix Suns have three players who can take over a game.
There’s Chris Paul and Devin Booker, breaking down defenses from the backcourt. Deandre Ayton has been dominant on the backboards and almost automatic as a shooter. When all three are rolling the way they were in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it’s easy to see why this could finally be the Suns’ championship chance.
The Bucks also have three stars, though Jrue Holiday didn't play like one in Game 1. He needs to be better in Game 2 on Thursday night.
10:21 a.m. -- Teams down 0-2 in Finals face long odds
Let's hope this isn't a statistic we have to worry about. But just in case, it's worth noting: Teams that fall behind 0-2 in the NBA Finals only go on to win the series about 11 percent of the time.
Across 35 NBA Finals with that scenario, the team that went up 2-0 won the championship 31 times, and only lost 4 times. The last time a team went up 2-0 and failed to finish the job was the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors, who went up two games to none against LeBron James' Cavaliers before eventually losing the series 3-4.
But even if the Bucks lose tonight, remember this: Milwaukee lost the first two games of their series against the Nets, and still advanced. They dropped Game 1 against the Hawks at home, and finished them in six games. Maybe they can pull off that come-from-behind magic one more time.
9:54 a.m. -- Be aware of parking restrictions for Game 2
If you plan on heading downtown to enjoy Game 2 tonight, Traffic Reporter Adriana Mendez has the details on all the street closures and parking restrictions:
If you're heading to the Deer District tonight, here are the no parking/ tow-away zones.— Adriana Mendez (@AdrianaMendez) July 8, 2021
N. Third Street, from W. State Street to W. McKinley Avenue.
N. 6th Street, from W. State Street. to W. McKinley Avenue.
N. Vel R. Phillips Street, from W. State Street to W. Highland Avenue. pic.twitter.com/rThY2MGJ7E