Phoenix Suns: 3 Mistakes the Suns Cannot Afford in NBA Finals

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

Phoenix Suns Mistake #2: Not enough looks for Ayton

Ayton has been hyper effective in these playoffs, and in my opinion was the MVP of the Conference Finals, but he does come with a caveat. In round one, Ayton dominated Andre Drummond. Then in the Conference Semifinals, it was Jokic, before Zubac and LA’s “small ball” lineup. All of them were either relatively subpar defenders, or lacking in size. Now this isn’t to take away anything from Ayton’s run, but it’s fair to say that the Finals will be his greatest challenge yet on defense.

I have plenty of optimism for Ayton in any of these potential matchups. In regard to his matchup with Milwaukee, Ayton earlier this year showed great proficiency in attacking Brook Lopez while isolated, and while taking advantage of any drop coverage thrown his way by nailing mid-range jumpers.

Averaging an 18-point double-double on 71.0 percent shooting, Ayton was just as efficient vs Atlanta as well… but he did only average six shot attempts per game, and there lies the issue.

Ayton will always be monstrously efficient, but he needs guards to give him the ball for the production to match. At times during the Conference Finals, Booker and Paul were too busy trying to force offense to let Ayton get any “turn to go to work” chances.

It remains their responsibility to let him be the instant-offense machine we know he can be, especially if others see their jump shots go cold. This holds even more validity vs the Hawks because Atlanta’s front court does not drop on pick and rolls. The lob or pocket pass will be open to start games, and Atlanta will be forced to adjust if the Suns simply let Ayton do what he does.