PHOENIX SUNS

Deandre Ayton: Phoenix Suns need to ‘accept hard’ vs. Mavericks

May 10, 2022, 2:20 PM | Updated: 3:28 pm
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Ish Wainright #12 after scoring against the Dallas...
Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns high fives Ish Wainright #12 after scoring against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of Game Two of the Western Conference Second Round NBA Playoffs at Footprint Center on May 04, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 129-109. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns have watched their 2-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks flip to a 2-2 tie in the Western Conference semifinals matchup.

The stalemate sets the stage for a pivotal Game 5 between the two sides. Phoenix still holds homecourt advantage but must come out of Tuesday’s battle with a victory to continue that trend.

It’s been a tough slog for Phoenix following two home victories in Games 1 and 2, recording 17 turnovers in back-to-back matchups in Dallas, both losses.

For center Deandre Ayton and the Suns, it’s about getting back to what worked earlier in the Dallas series and during the team’s first-round run against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I got to get back to Game 1, period,” Ayton told reporters following shootaround on Tuesday. “I’ve been feeling like that, just got to get back to Game 1 and accept hard. We just got to accept the physicality, accept everything we did against NOLA. That’s why we’re here. Series is tied, it’s back to 0-0 to be honest. May the best team win.”

Getting a Game 1 performance from Ayton would go along way for the Suns. In the 121-114 win over the Mavericks, the center dropped 25 points on 12-of-20 shooting (60%) and grabbed eight rebounds. He also had a block over 33 minutes.

That showing came after Ayton averaged 20.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks over 35 minutes in the six-game series against the Pelicans. He posted a positive plus-minus in all but two games in the series.

After Game 1, however, Ayton shied away from his game scoring just nine points in Game 2 and combining for 30 points in Games 3 and 4.

In Game 2 he wasn’t a factor on the glass, grabbing just three total rebounds.

But above all else, both Ayton and Phoenix need to get back to playing physical with a purpose.

“Most definitely (physicality is at the top of the list), just making sure it’s contagious throughout the whole team,” Ayton said. “Just accepting it, not just out there being physical, out of character. Just accepting second efforts from your opponent and embracing it and trying to outplay them at the same time.

Like Phoenix Suns head coach and 2022 NBA coach of the Year Monty Williams says, “everything you want is on the other side of hard.”

Phoenix Suns

Phoenix Suns forward Cameron Johnson (23) smiles after a three pointer against the New York Knicks ...
Arizona Sports

Cam Johnson buzzer-beater, Devin Booker style up for NBA fan vote

Two Phoenix Suns are up for a vote in the 2021-22 NBA Fan Favorite awards honoring the best of the regular season.
23 hours ago
Devin Booker #1 of the Phoenix Suns during the second half of Game One of the Western Conference Se...
Kellan Olson

Devin Booker earns 1st Team All-NBA, 1st Suns player to do so since 2007

Phoenix Suns shooting guard Devin Booker has long been disrespected nationally but this season he has been properly recognized.
23 hours ago
Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, left, reacts with head coach Monty Williams during the first hal...
Kevin Zimmerman

Report: Suns’ finale could echo Deandre Ayton-Monty Williams dynamic

As Deandre Ayton prepares to receive free agency interest, the rumor mill might tell us if Phoenix wants to match an offer.
23 hours ago
Washington Commanders guard Chris Paul works during a rookie minicamp practice at the team's NFL fo...
Haboob Blog

Chris Paul or CP3? Commanders quiz their rookies

Chris Paul, Washington Commanders rookie guard, shares a name and position with Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul.
2 days ago
Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass against Raja Bell #19 0f the Phoenix Suns in...
Arizona Sports

The 5: Suns to earn 1st Team All-Defense honors before Mikal Bridges

Suns forward Mikal Bridges made the NBA's First Team All-Defense as announced Friday, becoming the first Suns player to do so since 2007.
3 days ago
Phoenix Suns general manager James Jones speaks to the media regarding the firing of Suns head coac...
Kevin Zimmerman

Phoenix Suns salary cap Q&A for the 2022 offseason

Here's a quick Q&A covering how the Phoenix Suns might navigate this offseason from a financial perspective.
2 days ago
Deandre Ayton: Phoenix Suns need to ‘accept hard’ vs. Mavericks