Suns center Deandre Ayton was running on coals from offense to defense and vice-versa. Not even testing the water he was ready to play a competitive team in the Miami Heat.
During the last few games for the Phoenix Suns, Ayton has really let the game come to him and was able to show up when things started to tense up late in games. Remember when Ayton was benched in the fourth quarter earlier this year? It seems like a year ago. His play has taken a leap within the last few weeks. The base of his rim-running, put-back game is there, and now he is starting to build something big.
There is no better way to start the game than a “get that shit outa here” block within the first three minutes. Ayton was on the prowl early and looking to jump right in without testing the waters.
The overbite on the free-throw line was out early for Ayton, and he looked like he was ready to chop down a tree like a giant chipmunk. Tired, but there was plenty of energy stored inside and ready for release on the next play.
Ascending with the ball in open spaces, gliding back down on the defensive end with his arms still out, he was a moving picture to give two thumbs up to all game long.
Not a lot was missed on defense for Ayton but a body slam of the ball on an inbounds pass showed he was pissed off about the rotation on defense giving up the easy lay-ins for the Miami Heat. It could be blame on him or his teammate but holding it in to save the emotion for defense was the right move early.
Ayton was relieved of duty late in the first and didn't return until five minutes left in the second quarter. The bench was able to give him a rest that help him charge for the second half.
On the first mismatch for Ayton, he was able to gather himself near the rim. Something where in the past we might look at and see him passing out of. This time the up and under is an easy two.
On the pick-and-rolls, Ayton was alert to find the pass or the offensive rebound. His orbit around the rim was open to all flying objects and he was ready for the put back or the pass.
The defensive end, he was laying the switches like a sliding glass door, avoiding the foul and misdirecting the ball for a difficult shot. His lips were moving up and down to direct his defense in front and in back.
Halftime talk from from Coach Monty Williams: “Get Ayton the ball!”
That they did, starting the second half, Ayton was able to throw one down.
Ayton was in the crowd down low all night, looking like a battle scene from birds eye view while taking on 10 enemies at a time until victory with the offensive rebound or a tip out to a teammate. Against the Heat, the enemies were small and struggling to bring the giant down. Ayton made sure to make things difficult and uncomfortable under the rim. A situation he would have rather stayed away from in the beginning of the year.
Ayton's defense welcomed Trevor Ariza late in the game and to the rim and… nope. Ariza came away with nothing but swaying hands of disgust.
There were a few mistakes on the court for Ayton, but he was in a hurry to make it up. On his first mistake on the throw away, he made up for it with a chase down block. Something he learned from superstar teammate Devin Booker. The reward for Ayton on offense all comes from the hustle on defense, he was making sure he kept things even. With the struggles of Booker, Ayton did not have a choice but to keep playing hard.
Then, after taking away a Torrey Craig shot with basket interference, he was able to assist on the next offensive possession.
Aytons’ body language score: A+
Here’s the game highlights for the Suns win over the Heat.