In their first NBA Finals appearance since 1993, the Phoenix Suns rode Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and a high-octane third quarter to a 118-105 home victory in Game 1 over Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
CP3 was brilliant, particularly in that third frame, when he had 16 points on an array of shots from three, the mid-range and at the rim. He was 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-3 from three in the quarter. He hit his all-too-familiar pull-up after dragging a big out of the paint. He blew by Bobby Portis after baiting him into a reach.
After a historic 41-point performance in the closeout game of the Western Conference Finals, Paul finished with 32 points and nine assists in a Finals debut that put him in the company of all-time great big men.
He didn't lead Phoenix to a 1-0 lead alone, though. Devin Booker continued to impress in his first postseason, adding 27 points, six assists and three steals.
It's far from a perfect analog, but this backcourt was so good that it gave off a hint of Shaq-and-Kobe vibes.
Kobe Bryant won his first title in his fourth season. Booker is in his sixth. Shaquille O'Neal was still the best player on the Los Angeles Lakers at the time. CP3 is still the best player on the Suns. A dominant wing and a dominant big was an ideal combo for that era. Dominant pick-and-roll players might be the perfect combo for this era.