Most players would be quite unhappy to be facing elimination in the NBA Finals, particularly after holding a 2-0 series lead. Deandre Ayton apparently isn’t one of them.
The Phoenix Suns center said after Saturday’s Game 5 loss that he liked that the team was now the underdog against the Milwaukee Bucks, adding that it’s “more fun” to be the desperate team.
“I like it. It’s fun; the tables are turned now,” Ayton said, via Mark Medina of USA Today. “Now we’re the desperate team. We had our chances of being up and trying to finish the job, now we’re in the same position that they were in. They’re up, and now we got to go get it. That’s why it’s a little bit more fun.”
It’s anyone’s guess whether Ayton is trying to talk himself into that mindset or he’s just enjoying the pressure. The Suns have battled and overcome adversity all season, and maybe that attitude has something to do with it. Still, it’s a safe bet that even if Ayton likes this spot, he’d much rather be up in the series or have it clinched already.
Ayton scored 22 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in Game 1, his best performance of the Finals so far. He might have to be that good again for the Suns to win in Milwaukee and force Game 7. He certainly won’t want to end up on the wrong end of one of the biggest plays of the series again either.