Suns Keys to Winning Without Booker

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images Deandre Ayton is a key player at ends for the Phoenix Suns to win without Devin Booker. Ayton is coming off a career playoff high of 28 in game 3 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Biggest of All Suns Keys to Winning: Rebounding

At one point in the fourth quarter the New Orleans Pelicans rebounding edge was 44-28 over Phoenix. The Suns grabbed seven of the last eight rebounds to close out the game. It’s the biggest reason the Suns held on to win 114-111 Friday night. Of all the Suns keys to winning keeping the Pelicans the offensive glass may be the biggest.

The Suns first shot defense is one of the best in the NBA. Defenses break down and are forced to scramble when they give up offensive rebounds. The Pelicans averaged almost 16 offensive rebounds through the first three games, including 25 in game one. Its the biggest part of their overall +47 on the glass overall in the series. Of all Suns keys to winning and advancing closing that gap is the biggest one.

Ayton, and the Center Position, Must Continue to Produce

Deandre Ayton’s career playoff high of 28 was a huge reason the Suns won game 3. He also grabbed almost half of the teams rebounds with 17. His stepping up his play on bothe ends fueled Phoenix’s run to the NBA Finals last year.

Ayton’s backup, Javale McGee, also had an excellent game with 15 points on 7-8 shooting. The Pelicans starting center, Jonas Valancunias, secured 11 boards but was only 1-5 from the field for 6 points. Ayton’s strong defense on him and the production of both centers must continue for the Suns to close the series out.

Suns Need Greater Contributions from Shamet and Johnson

When Devin Booker left game 3 in the third quarter with a hamstring injury the pressure players for Phoenix, Landry Shamet and Cameron Johnson. Both players contributed to a strong Suns bench this season. Now they are being asked to, at least partly, make up what Booker gives the team every night.

Johnson and Shamet combined for 5-14 shooting and 13 points Friday night. Shamet’s wasn’t only Suns player to struggle off the bench. Outside of McGee Phoenix’s bench shot just 3-15. Suns Head Coach Monty Williams inserted Johnson into the sterting lineup after losing Booker. Mikal Bridges, Ayton, McGee and Chris Paul carried the offensive load Friday. Paul had 19 of his 28 to hold off New Orleans. Shamet and Johnson stepping up will take pressure off their teammates to duplicate those performances Sunday.

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