The Los Angeles Clippers are set to face their toughest task yet, as they'll have to get past the Phoenix Suns without Kawhi Leonard for a chance to play in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history.
And, even though the Suns don't have Chris Paul due to the health and safety protocols, they still have a tough, deep team that's capable of holding down the fort while he's able to come back.
Devin Booker has gotten most of the headlines and for very good reasons. He's been great on and off the ball and is leading them in scoring. Nonetheless, Deandre Ayton has been spectacular since the start of the playoffs as well.
That's why Clippers star Paul George had no choice but to give Ayton a lot of props for his performance in Game 1, admitting that he's more agile and more of an offensive threat than the other bigs they've faced thus far in the playoffs:
"Yeah, it's different. Ayton is a little bit more agile, more of a presence down low, and a better finisher than the other bigs we faced," George said, as quoted by Shane Young of Forbes.
Ayton finished the night with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists on 71.4% shooting and continues to break out and make winning plays on both ends of the floor. He's finally living up to the hype of being the first-overall pick.
The Clippers got past Kristaps Porzingis and Rudy Gobert in the first couple of rounds, so George has a valid point right there. Porzingis was playing in the perimeter and Gobert barely tried to score, so coach Lue has to make some adjustments in his tactics to deal with a player like Ayton going forward, especially without Serge Ibaka.