Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns knows he has his work cut out for him as he must confront Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets on a regular basis in the second round playoff series between the two teams.
Ayton talked about guarding Nikola Jokic. Mentioned the physicality of this series as something that’s stood out. pic.twitter.com/upc3h25h4J
— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) May 4, 2023
Ayton was talking with media members on Thursday prior to Game 3 of the series, which will be played in Phoenix Friday night. The Suns have dropped the first two games of the series, both of which were played in the Mile High City.
While the Suns have plenty of scoring with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant leading the way, the team’s ability to contain Jokic is likely to have a huge impact on the series. Ayton knows that he bears quite a bit of the responsibility for containing the 2-time Most Valuable Player.
Jokic had a huge Game 2 in the series, scoring a game-high 39 points and adding 16 rebounds. He was also a major factor in the opening game when he scored 24 points and pulled down 19 rebounds. Jokic also had 5 assists in both games.
Ayton said that guarding Jokic is a major challenge for 2 different reasons. In addition to Jokic’s overall skill, Ayton cited his physical play as well as his “tricky” positioning on the offensive end.
Ayton had 14 points and 8 rebounds in the Suns’ Game 2 loss, and while he can’t be expected to match Jokic’s overall productivity, he has to do a better job on the defensive end if the Suns are going to make this a long series.
Deandre Ayton believes his team is up to the task. “We’re down 0-2 and we’re desperate,” Ayton said. “I kind of like it.”
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