Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
“Turn up Denver!” Booker shouted as he swept the final matchup. “That’s how we get a ring!”
After defeating the Nuggets in the semifinals with Patrick Beverley controlling them, No. 10 seed Ayton was powerless against No. 5 seed Booker, falling into a double-digit deficit after halftime of Game 2 that was impossible to climb back from.
In taking home the title, Booker will get $100,000 to donate to a charity of his choice supporting COVID-19 relief courtesy of 2K Sports, the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.
“It was a talented field,” Booker said postgame. “I said from the beginning it was going to be me and Deandre in the final, and that’s how it turned out.”
Of the 18 ESPN NBA experts to predict the tournament’s outcome, only four had Booker winning it all. None had Ayton.
The final round featured a fair amount of trash talk between the two teammates as well. Knowing that Ayton still had Milwaukee available to play with in the final round, Booker taunted Ayton as time wound down in Game 1 to come back with arguably the best team in the game.
“Go get the Bucks, too.” Booker chirped. “I want them. Go get them.”
Ayton didn’t have much of a chance with them anyway. Even before Booker took a 10-point lead in the third quarter, Ayton complained that he’d never used Milwaukee before and was still trying to figure them out. Booker didn’t give him any breaks along the way, shooting 71 percent in the first half of Game 2 and finishing Game 1 with the Rockets shooting 63 percent from the field.
“I played a lot growing up,” Booker said of his skills. “I’ve been playing video games for a long time. It’s all about timing and hand-eye coordination.”
The Suns’ shooting guard never even had to use the Lakers himself throughout the tournament. He said he was keeping that option available if he found himself in an elimination game. That didn’t happen, of course. Booker won five games in the tournament by double digits, including both matches in the final round to snatch the title.