Suns Heating Up At the Right Time
After punching their ticket to The NBA Finals for the first time in 28 years, the Phoenix Suns are as hot as ever before.
Starting point guard Chris Paul was fantastic in closing out his former team, as he was only the fourth player in NBA History to score 40+ with no turnovers in a Conference Finals game. His legacy was seemingly on the line and boy did he deliver.
The Suns now await the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Bucks vs. Hawks to see who their opponent will be. Both teams are banged up as Milwaukee is playing without “The Greek Freak” in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Atlanta is still fighting without their leader Trey Young out there.
Nonetheless, the Suns cannot take either team lightly. The Bucks and Hawks have both proven to be a quality team all year and their role players have really stepped up in their prospective stars’ absence. With that being said, I would not be surprised at all to see Antetokounmpo or Young return to action in the near future which is why Phoenix should most certainly not sleep on their next opponent.
Who is the Suns X Factor?
Depending on who ultimately advances to the NBA Finals to meet the Suns, Phoenix Suns X factor could most certainly change. Nonetheless, I expect CP3 and Devin Booker to rise to the occasion on the biggest stage even though it is their first Finals appearance which is why neither of them are my picks.
A guy that I am most curious to see is starting big man Deandre Ayton. The 6”11 center has been magnificent for the Suns up to this point as he has averaged 16.2 points and nearly 12 rebounds in his first-ever playoff action.
Defensively is also something I do not think he gets enough credit for. Containing superstar big men in Anthony Davis and this year’s MVP in Nikola Jokic is almost impossible, but it seems as though he has done so in back-to-back series before entering the Conference Finals.
That is something that he must continue to do if the Suns are going to take control of the NBA Finals. If Milwaukee ends up being their opponent, he will have to face the biggest fish of them all in my estimation in Giannis (assuming a full recovery) at some point.
Antetokounmpo is an absolute handful to defend. The combination of strength and agility that Giannis possesses is extremely rare. After all, he is not a two MVP for no reason.
Ayton first and foremost must impose his will on the defensive end for the Suns, otherwise, Phoenix could be in for a long series.
If the Hawks prevail to the NBA Finals, I believe it puts more emphasis on Ayton’s game offensively to punish their big men and get them in foul trouble.
Clint Capela is an underrated defender and great rebounder for Atlanta. John Collins can provide a lot of production for the Hawks in areas that do not often show up on the stat sheet. Neutralizing those two by scoring on them deep in the post, will surely compromise their effectiveness.
I see Deandre Ayton’s game having a huge impact on the Suns ability to ultimately win it all. If he can dominate like he has been all postseason long, I do not see Phoenix losing whatsoever. If the pressure of the moment does get to him however, I could see the Suns having a very difficult time.