Milwaukee Bucks: 5 most crucial matchups in NBA Finals vs. Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 10 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: P.J. Tucker, Bobby Portis, Phoenix Suns: Deandre Ayton
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – APRIL 19 (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

Brook Lopez and the frontcourt must limit Deandre Ayton in NBA Finals between Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns

As evidenced by his play during this postseason, Brook Lopez has provided the Bucks with a formidable presence protecting the paint. That defensive excellence will be put to the test as Lopez will be designated with guarding Deandre Ayton, who got the upper hand against the big man during their two regular season meetings.

According to, Lopez guarded Ayton across 49.6 partial possession – approximately 14 minutes – during the regular season, and the latter was dominant by scoring 23 points on an impressive 10-of-12 shooting. Clocking in at 83.3 percent field goal shooting, Ayton put up the highest field goal percentage against Lopez among anyone else in the league with a minimum of 10 shot attempts by a landslide.

Ayton has only improved since then as he is having a dominant postseason debut, meaning the Bucks will have to devise a game plan to keep him in check. Lopez will certainly be the primary defender of the big man, and time will tell if he can do a better job this time around. Without a genuine shot from behind the arc, Ayton is a lethal presence in the post offensively, and Lopez must do his part to protect the paint as he did vigorously against the Hawks in the ECF.

While Lopez will get the main crack at Ayton, do not be surprised if Bobby Portis or even P.J. Tucker find themselves guarding him at some point as well. Tucker is known for his robust defense and is no stranger to guarding towering centers, and Portis has shown improvement on the defensive end during this playoff run. As a result, Budenhholzer has several options to experiment with, and he must find the right one to stop this budding star.