PHOENIX SUNS

Charles Barkley: Time for Suns’ Devin Booker ‘to have one of those games’

Jun 1, 2021, 1:21 PM
(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)...
(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Former Suns star and current Inside the NBA co-host Charles Barkley believes in Phoenix’s chances to take its first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers. That has a lot to due with the Lakers’ current injury issues.

With the series tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 on Tuesday, Barkley’s clock is reading Book time.

“The bottom line is it’s going to come down to Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton,” Barkley told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Tuesday. “They got to come out and play their best game of the series. The crowd is going to be going crazy. Those two guys, they need to play like stars.

“They got to come out and jump on these Lakers. To me, Booker, it’s time for him to have one of those games where he says, ‘I’m the best player out here. LeBron (James) is the best player probably, but not this series and not this game tonight.'”

The Lakers are reportedly unlikely to have forward Anthony Davis due to a groin injury suffered in the Game 4 Phoenix win. In his postgame press conference Sunday, James said he’ll shoulder the load moving forward.

Meanwhile, Booker surpassed 30 points in each of his first two games of the first-round series but went 11-of-35 (31%) from the field in the past two outings.

Granted, that’s come as the Lakers have directed all of their defensive attention his way, allowing Ayton to thrive at the rim by hitting 81% of his shots through four games.

“I got to take my hat off to Deandre Ayton. We were worried about how he was going to perform in his first playoffs,” Barkley said. “He might’ve been the Suns’ best player in this series (through four games).”

Considering the injury situation on Los Angeles’ end, Barkley does not buy into the Lakers’ chances.

James entered the series still working through an ankle injury — the star has admitted he won’t be healed up until after this season. He’s lacked explosion and hasn’t been aggressive attacking off the dribble.

Davis missed time before the regular season ended due to right calf and Achilles injuries, then hyperextended his left knee and injured his left groin in consecutive games over the past week.

“(James is) not the same guy,” Barkley said. “He’s not as aggressive as he has been because, number one, he is nursing that ankle. But also he’s older, too. I told these guys on our show … the notion that these guys are just going to show up and win, it’s not going to happen. They both had leg injuries, so you probably couldn’t work out when you were hurt.

“I think the Suns are going to win the series. I don’t think AD is coming back anytime soon,” Barkley added. “The games, there’s only a day in between. He’s got a groin issue — he got hurt probably because he’s over compensating because he hasn’t played (regularly) in months. It doesn’t work like that.”

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