Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton, DeAndre Hopkins Celebrate “Valley-Oop”

Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns, Deandre Ayton (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Deandre Ayton’s buzzer-beating alley-oop for the Phoenix Suns during Game 2 certainly took some time to digest properly. Perfectly screened for by Devin Booker and flawlessly tossed up by Jae Crowder, the game-stealing play set Phoenix Suns Arena ablaze, turning the crowd up to a nuclear level, while leaving even the most casual basketball fans feeling absolutely stunned.

Currently enjoying a playoff run filled with historic individual performances, enraged Jokic brothers, LeBron James trolls, and fans earning nation-wide fame, the Suns grew their spotlight substantially over the last few weeks, even becoming the country’s most likeable team. Vegas also seems intrigued by the Suns, with them currently favorited to win their first NBA title at -105.

But Ayton’s play alone, eventually deemed the “Valley-Oop,” and its ability to impress even those completely unattached to the NBA best illustrates Phoenix’s increased audience and fan following. Recognizing their shared name and city, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins hopped on Twitter yesterday to commemorate Ayton’s high-flying finish.

Beside a picture depicting Ayton’s dunk, Hopkins then included another picture beside it, showing off a “Hail Mary” catch he made this past NFL season, doing so over several defenders to haul in a game-winning touchdown for the Cardinals with only a few seconds still to play. Hopkins simply commented “It’s the Deandre in us,” before tagging both Ayton and the Suns.

Known by football fans as “Moss-ing” another player, Hopkins’s catch came as the NFL-equivalent to a slam dunk. From the pictures, one can see that Ayton and Hopkins both fought through multiple surrounding opponents to make the play, showing off their strength and determination.

Although the Cardinals fell short last year despite Hopkins’s unforgettable catch, the Suns however still possess a chance to add this play to a larger highlight reel, one hopefully celebrating an NBA Championship. Thanks to Ayton’s dunk and a 120-114 victory two days before it, the Suns need only two more wins to advance to the NBA Finals, making their first appearance since 1993.

But now they hit the road against a Los Angeles Clippers team, having won both their Western Conference Quarterfinals and Semifinals series after starting down 0-2. However, the Suns expect veteran point guard Chris Paul to return, while two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard remains out for the Clippers, offering them a slight edge tonight nonetheless.

With Ayton averaging 22.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game so far this series, LA’s “small ball” lineup looks utterly useless while trying to defend him. Bigs DeMarcus Cousins and Ivica Zubac occasionally field minutes, but seem unable to bother Ayton as well. In fact, it was Zubac who Ayton soared over during the “Valley-Oop,” attaching him to the immortalized play for all the wrong reasons.

If the Suns win tonight though, the Clippers might need to finally dust off their white flags, with no team having ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. If the Suns indeed move on sooner rather than late, either the Atlanta Hawks or Milwaukee Bucks will duke it out with them for the title. The Hawks already own a 1-0 series lead.

Next. Why the Clippers Are in Big Trouble When Chris Paul Returns. dark

Pondering which opponent the Suns might face in the NBA Finals at this point might seem a bit naive, and even foolish. However, their current two-game cushion topping off a franchise-best nine straight playoff victories leaves them with no better position to be in. But whether or not Phoenix indeed goes the distance, you can be sure that Hopkins, and the world for that matter, will stay watching.