Phoenix Suns: 3 Most Important Matchups vs Los Angeles Clippers

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Deandre Ayton needs to stay dominant against this smaller team

Committed to a “small ball” strategy, the Clippers lack a real center ahead this matchup with the Suns. With Phoenix carrying a much improved and confident Deandre Ayton into the series, it gives new meaning to the term “mismatch.”

Looking to stay afloat down low, expect the Clippers to throw several different defenders at Ayton, ranging from Ivica Zubac, Daniel Oturu, and DeMarcus Cousins. Amidst all this craziness and inconsistency soon to come off the Clipper bench, it remains imperative for Ayton to stay focused, play his game, and exploit this weakness rather than allow LA to cover it up.

Scoring 15.2 points per game this postseason, Ayton stands responsible for 13.7 percent of his team’s points, the third most behind Paul, and then Devin Booker. But the former Arizona Wildcat impacts the Suns more so as a rebounder, snatching 10.7 boards per game, the fourth most amongst all Western Conference players this postseason.

Paul George enters the Conference Finals as LA’s best rebounder averaging 9.2 per game. But due to Ayton’s superior size and strength, Playoff-P seems like a less serious threat, with his leading rebounding numbers coming more as a testament to his team’s insufficient work on the glass at the center spot, rather than anything else.

Zubac, Oturu, and Cousins collectively average 8.1 rebounds per game, far less than Ayton alone. Put simply, Ayton just needs to keep doing his thing. It should give way to a massive rebounding advantage for the Suns, which more often than not leads to a victory.