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NBA FINALS: BUCKS VS. SUNS


July 16, 2021


DeAndre Ayton


Phoenix Suns

Practice Day


Q. Khris Middleton got loose in the last game for 40. I'm curious for you, earlier in the series I was talking to you about screens. When you're in drop coverage and you need to help out in some way, what is your approach to try to make that uncomfortable on Khris?

DEANDRE AYTON: Mainly just playing both. You know, trying not to let the big get behind me, but at the same time, still give him a little pressure to know that I'm still there and not all the way committing to the big but still giving my guard a little help to help him to get back.

Q. How frustrating can it be against him, because it feels like his game is going to be at the same pace no matter what. You're not going to speed him up. And the difference is going to be sometimes the tough shots go in and sometimes the tough shots that you contested are not going to go in.

DEANDRE AYTON: Yeah, I mean, great players make great plays, but our goal is just to make him uncomfortable and keep doing what we do best on the defensive end.

Q. We didn't get a chance to talk to you the other day. I was kind of curious if you could walk me through what you saw with that play at Giannis at the rim.

DEANDRE AYTON: Which one?

Q. The one where you tried to dunk it on him in the fourth quarter.

DEANDRE AYTON: The alley-oop?

Q. Yeah.

DEANDRE AYTON: Great players make great plays. He's Giannis. He's the Defensive Player of the Year. Itís the Finals, you've got to get attempts like that. Nothing easy, to be honest.

Q. You guys were able to keep him away from the rim a lot more than you were in the prior games. Was there anything specific you guys changed up in terms of trying to wall off the paint and keep him a little bit farther away?

DEANDRE AYTON: Mainly just stepping up playing defense, not backing down to the challenge. That's about it.

Q. Chris is one of the best guys in the league with the ball normally. I know it was uncharacteristic to have five turnovers in Game 4. Did they change anything up in terms of putting more pressure on him, or was that just a one-off game, and do you expect that to change in Game 5?

DEANDRE AYTON: I think it was a little bit of both. We've just got to really adjust, and just when adversity hits we've just got to pull through.

Q. Giannis is usually one of the league leaders in charges called against him, but then this year he's only had one. I was wondering just as an opponent how difficult is it to put yourself in a position when he's being aggressive attacking the basket to draw that charge on him?

DEANDRE AYTON: I mean, you really just have to really rely on your shifts. Just try to meet him early to avoid all of that contact and him really putting pressure on the rim. It's just seeking him out early and sliding your feet, showing your hands early before he attacks you, before he throws a dribble out in front of you. Make sure everyone is back on defense showing him a wall and everybody is ready to rotate.

Q. What's been the overall mood around the team over the past couple days, and how much more emphasis does this situation put on the togetherness of this team knowing that this is now a best of three series?

DEANDRE AYTON: I mean, we have a culture here. Games, whether it's a loss or a win, we don't change the way we approach the game. We all still laugh and do what we have to do to really rejuvenate from anything we did before.

Just coming together, talking, it's our culture. Coming in, seeing the net move and just talking about what we can do for the next game, stuff like that, it never changes.

Q. After watching the film, what positives do you take away from the loss in Game 4, and what do you need to improve for Game 5?

DEANDRE AYTON: When we played defense, there wasn't that much points scored in the paint last game. I think that was the least amount of points throughout the four games. The negatives is just not turning the ball over and rebounding the ball. We have to get these 50/50 chance baskets in, try to give ourselves a chance to get an extra possession in. Just really being relentless.

Q. The last year at the Bubble you said the Suns be back, put some respect on our names. This is good. So how much does it mean to you not just to be back, but to be at the Finals and have the opportunity to win a championship?

DEANDRE AYTON: Just to show the world that this organization, the Phoenix Suns organization, we're building a new culture and a new winning culture, new winning legacy. We have a great group of guys who put in a lot of work, and I feel that.

Us coming up all the way where we are today as a unit, you see where the hard work is going, and it's just something to really reflect on. But at the same time, still try to take care of business.

Q. That clip of Coach Monty Williams motivating you on the sidelines has gone kind of viral recently. Going into Game 5, how is he uplifting you as a player and as a person going into this new challenge?

DEANDRE AYTON: I'm really not changing my aggression of anything. Still be who I am, still dominate both ends of the floor, and just be a presence. I'm still looking into great detail on how they officiated me and how aggressive I can be, but at the same time, I'm not forgetting how we play, what we do best, still do what we do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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