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July 5, 2021

DeAndre Ayton

Phoenix Suns

Media Day

Q. Giannis' status is up in the air, but if he plays that's a matchup you took this season, last season, and you fared well with it. What are the keys for you with defending a guy that unique?

DEANDRE AYTON: Basically just being the first man on defense. Making sure I'm a presence. Foul awareness as well. Always showing my hands and just matching his physicality. This is a guy whose motor is insane, and we just have to match it and compete. That's what it comes down to at the end of the day, just competing.

Q. On the other end you'll see Brook Lopez probably defending you quite a bit as well. He's obviously a big dude. But part of the Bucks' defense is keeping him near the rim. How do you try to find the balance of being tough inside but also trying to stretch him out and keeping him away?

DEANDRE AYTON: Definitely O-boards, I think I'm great at. Just attacking the glass and being relentless on the glass. Being the first man in transition. If he crashes, I'll probably be the first man on my end to probably get early seals, just to try to put some pressure on the rim to change the game up a little bit. Angles, just finding good angles on the way I set screens to get people open -- pin-downs, on-ball screens. Just ways to put pressure on him having two against one.

Q. Is there any moment already hit you and make you feel like, okay, this is the Finals, that it's a different atmosphere already?

DEANDRE AYTON: Walking into here, seeing Mr. Larry [the Larry O'Brien Trophy] on every poster. It gave me goose bumps. I don't know if I was a part of it or I'm just here to look around or I'm just here for the NBA. I do not feel like I'm a player right now, but I am.

Q. You've started each series with a strong game. What has been the key to that?

DEANDRE AYTON: Just being relentless, doing what I do best. Just being a presence on both ends. Defense is what gets me going. Getting a couple boards off the glass, getting outlets, getting other guys running a little bit, getting the butterflies out. That's what really gets us going, attacking early. That's what we're good at in transition, and we're good at defense as well.

Q. With the two games that you played against the Bucks this season being as close as they were, how did the competitiveness of those two games prepare you for the playoffs?

DEANDRE AYTON: I think it prepared a lot, but at the end of the day, this is the playoffs. Lord knows what they're going to throw at us. It was just mainly sticking to what we do, sticking to the script, not changing anything, but just being relentless, playing together, moving the ball and just attacking in transition as best as we can and making sure we clean up the glass on the defensive end.

Q. So what would you say to people who say this whole thing seems like it's coming together fast? I mean, it feels like just yesterday we were at, up in Boise for the NCAA Tournament; now here you are in the NBA Finals. Do you feel like it's going fast or do you feel like it's been a slow build?

DEANDRE AYTON: I can say it feels like it's going fast a little bit. But I definitely feel every game, body hurting and all that. I feel every part of this, the physicality throughout the games and just the mental stamina you have to have in between games and the type of reps you have to put in. Days you have to remember to rest and not rest. So it's just stuff like that you have to keep in mind.

Q. Your moment with the trophy after the game in the locker room where you were talking about she's so hard to get kind of got a lot of people talking on social media. Just curious, what's the hardest part about getting to this point for you guys this year?

DEANDRE AYTON: I don't even know. I could just say it's not easy winning in the NBA. The type of sacrifice you have to put in and the preparation before each game, you just have to be consistent with it. Just to have the organization and the group, a team like this to be on the same page is insane, and just going through that wasn't easy. It was a lot of adversity and a lot of trials and tribulations to get through where we are today.

Q. Obviously as a young player you want to enjoy winning the Western Conference, but how do you make sure that don't get too caught up those excitement and get ready for the Game 1?

DEANDRE AYTON: I mean, what I do best is I enjoy the night and when I wake back up it's over; it's back to work. If I'm away, by the time I land, I'm done with the win. I'm done celebrating; it's back to work. That's the type of mindset the whole team has, to be honest. Like coach says, we don't get happy on the farm. The job's not done. I guess the the team hasn't been here in a while, but as a group we know we ain't done nothing yet, you know what I'm saying?

Q. With having a guy like Jae Crowder on the team, who was in The Finals a year ago, what wisdom has he imparted on you guys and what's the biggest takeaway you've maybe gotten from him recently?

DEANDRE AYTON: Most of our toughness is because of Jae. The dude is a dude who is all about sacrificing. He's the main part of just sharing the ball, and just whatever contributes to wins, you do it. He's the main guy of that. Just having the type of experience he has, dealing with guys like Giannis and AD, he helped me a lot. Telling me what they like to do and what they don't like and things they like to do when it comes to drawing fouls. Him stepping up to the plate as well. Getting on our butts a little bit and making us step up. You need a guy like that.

Q. Has he shared anything specific about The Finals specifically? Like, okay, we have been through the playoffs, but this is going to be an even greater challenge?

DEANDRE AYTON: He's just always telling us to be prepared. From the get-go we had a meeting and he was just telling us -- he was just locked in on just telling us that the only thing is just consistency when it comes to things like this. It's not going to always go our way. It's not going to always look pretty, but consistency is what kicks in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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