The Phoenix Suns gutted out an 84-80 win on Saturday night to take a 3-1 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers.
As teams get deeper into the playoffs, coaches typically tighten up their rotation which leads to a shorter bench. This means guys like former West Virginia star Jevon Carter have little to no role or impact on the game. In this series alone, Carter has only appeared in one game (game 3) and saw just two minutes of action.
I understand the reasoning for shortening the bench because it makes sense to have your best five on the floor as much as possible. However, there aren't many guys in the league who can harass a team's point guard like Jevon Carter. The Clippers have their own defensive menace in Patrick Beverly, which is someone NBA Draft experts compared Carter to when he came out of WVU. Seeing Carter have the same defensive impact on a game as Beverly would make head coach Monty Williams more open to playing Carter in moments where they need a string of stops. Even if he inserted Carter into the game for 10-12 minutes per night, that would take the opposing team's guard out of their flow for essentially a quarter of the game.
The main reason Carter hasn't received much of an opportunity is because of the play of starting guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker. The Suns need to have at least one of those guys on the floor at all times unless the game is well in control. That being said, Cam Payne has been seeing an average of 22.5 minutes per game and has even started a couple of games this series. Payne's offensive game is a little further ahead of Carter's but E'Twaun Moore being ahead of Carter in the rotation is something that can't be explained.
The Suns may not need Carter to defeat the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals but Monty Williams may want to consider throwing him into action in the NBA Finals to torment Jrue Holiday (Bucks) or Trae Young (Hawks). As you all know, Carter had his way against Young during their time in the Big 12. Young was 0-2 against West Virginia in his one year at Oklahoma and in large part, was shut down by Carter.
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