Phoenix Suns: 3 Ways to Stop The Clippers From Making This a Series

Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Phoenix Suns must attack more in the paint

Labouring through an absolutely atrocious night shooting the ball, the Suns collectively shot 39.8 percent from the field during Game 3, their lowest mark so far during the postseason. The Clippers played a much better defensive chess match against the Suns during the contest, but Phoenix’s shot selection factored in as well.

With the Clippers lacking a lock-down center between Ivica Zubac and a washed up DeMarcus Cousins, many expected the Suns to bully LA down low by freely feeding Deandre Ayton under the rim. Phoenix indeed utilized this strategy during the series’s first two games, with Ayton’s touches increasing during them compared to each postseason game before, going from 38.3 touches per game to 50.5 touches per game.

That pushed Ayton to average the most made field goals amongst all Suns at 11.5 per contest. That gave way to an outburst of paint-based scoring, whether coming straight from Ayton or others cutting around him. Collectively between the two games, the Suns outscored the Clippers in the painted area 114-64, with the Suns obviously winning each time.

But last night, the Suns neglected to focus their efforts down low, scoring just 42 paint points. Of course, they lost the game, putting to bed a franchise best nine-game winning streak while doing so.

To put things simply, the Suns need to go back to their original game plan: hammering the Clippers inside. Obviously this starts with Ayton, who failed to score at least 20 points last night for the first time this series, but relies upon others as well.

Even during Booker’s ugly performance last night, he shot a modest 3-7 when driving through to the paint. From outside though, he shot just 2-14.

Booker remains far too talented to keep making things this easy for a team decorated with strong wing defenders like Patrick Beverly and Paul George. Fixing any issue starts with acknowledging its existence, and the Suns need to once more recognize LA’s weakness around the basket, and then exploit it during their next two games.