Suns’ Ayton on playoffs: ‘It’s the kind of basketball I’ve been waiting for’
Playoffs look good on Deandre Ayton.
The center kept the Phoenix Suns afloat in Thursday’s 109-95 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, leading the team with 22 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 11-of-15.
Through three series games, Ayton is shooting 32-of-39 (82%) from the field while averaging 21.7 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.
It’s surprising to see this in a high-pressure situation, especially since during the regular season, he averaged 14.4 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
So what’s different about these matchups?
“It’s the kind of basketball I’ve been waiting for, to be honest,” Ayton said postgame.
“I’ve been training for this and we’re finally here, so I’ve got to take advantage.”
Ayton smashed a dunk in the second quarter with an assist from veteran point guard Chris Paul to bring the Suns within three of the Lakers.
To keep the success going, the 22-year-old is focused not on his stat line, but the task at hand.
“Being poised throughout this series is key and taking our time,” he said. “Just sticking together especially when games like this get lit and amped up. We just have to maintain discipline and play the basketball we know.”
Going up against LeBron James and the defending champ Lakers isn’t an easy task for your first time in the playoffs, so Ayton said he is using the motivation reaching the playoffs has brought to fuel both him and his team.
“It’s a big opportunity that we’re in the playoffs,” he said. “We showed that the work that we’ve all put in, the stuff that we’ve went through, the adversity that we’ve went over, it brought us here.
“Now it’s just time to maintain and just play the best basketball we can play at the highest level.”
The Suns will look to even the series on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 12:30 p.m. Tune to 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station for all the action.