Maybe Phoenix Suns youngsters Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton have been waiting their entire careers for yesterday, but we in the Valley of the Suns have been waiting much longer. After 11 years without the excitement of playoff basketball in Phoenix, Booker and Ayton delivered in a big way during their respective playoff debuts, as the Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 99-90.
It was Deandre Ayton early for the Phoenix Suns
The first quarter really helped establish the tone for the entire game. The Lakers are big, long, strong, and as a result, are used to pushing teams around. In the first quarter yesterday, the Suns held up strong early behind a big 10 points from Ayton.
Some initial love from Chris Paul helped get Ayton going before the big man began doing his best mailman impersonations, delivering often in the open court. Ayton’s athleticism is going to give the size of the Lakers trouble, and if the game can open up even better this way, it will surely favor the Suns.
With a 32-25 lead after the first quarter, the Lakers knew it was going to be a tough contest, and Ayton was a big part of establishing that tone.
Concern for Chris Paul in series for Phoenix Suns
Across his wonderful career, Paul has been very unlucky in the playoffs. Injured to end more than one series in his career where larger aspirations were afoot, it seemed almost predictable that CP3 went down.
Paul clearly tweaked something in his neck/shoulder and was not quite the same the rest of the game. But after Cameron Payne was ejected, there was little choice but to keep playing Paul even though he was definitely not himself. Ultimately, Phoenix was good enough on the day, but if Paul is going to miss any significant time in the series, it will be a major blow for the Suns.
Devin Booker did his thing for the Phoenix Suns
For those who missed the game, Booker is here to play this postseason. Whether it was his coast-to-coast jam or his multiple 3-pointers, Devin Booker made it happen for the Suns all day on Sunday. With Paul limited, it was Booker dominating the ball down the stretch and getting enough to secure the win.
Beyond his scoring, which is just beautiful, Booker showed he has a complete game, hauling down seven boards and dishing out eight assists. No, it was not a flashy Russell Westbrook triple-double, but it was the workman-like domination we have come to expect here in the valley.
In the end, all the Suns did was win the first game and go halfway in on holding their home-court advantage. However, for those who were anxious about the moment after so long out of the spotlight, two of the Suns biggest players stepped up, even when a third could not.
After more than a decade of wait, it was great to not be disappointed. From here, the Suns need to recognize they have not really accomplished anything and must prepare for Tuesday night when they can expect the Lakers to throw their best shot. However, if game one was any indicator of things to come, the Suns are ready.