Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton is out for Game 6 of the team’s second round against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night in Phoenix due to a rib injury.
Ayton suffered the injury in the first half of the Suns’ 118-102 loss to the Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday. He told Dana Scott of AZCentral that his collision with Nuggets guard Bruce Brown felt like “bone-on-bone”, which limited him early in the game.
Deandre Ayton was in his locker after Game 5 in pain from his lower right rib cage.
Ayton said he is “fine” from a “bone-on-bone” collision with the Nuggets’ Bruce Brown, who kneeled to punch Brown in 1Q. Ayton could not run back on offense after that play. pic.twitter.com/PLUfA6yNM0
— Dana (@iam_DanaScott) May 10, 2023
Will not play in the mandatory elimination game for Eton Suns. Phoenix could start backup Jock Landley, who has been aggressive this series.
Surya will miss the ion. He has received criticism for his play, but the Suns’ only matchup against Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is also the only one they can count on for the Athletics. Landell is physical and works hard, but he doesn’t have the same twitch as Eton.
What Deandre Ayton’s absence means for the Suns.
one more man down
The Suns will also be without starting point guard Chris Paul in Game 6. Paul has a left groin strain and was unwilling to pass up a chance to save Phoenix’s season.
The Suns are down two of their top four players outside of shooting guard Devin Booker and forward Kevin Durant. However, Booker suffered a foot injury in Game 5 against the Nuggets, and Durant did not always find himself offensively, despite impressive overall numbers.
Booker has been phenomenal this series for the Suns, who have yet to lose a home game. With two of their stars out, the pair will have to take more than that.
Another step in the rotation, starting lineup
Landley is expected to start for Ayton, which should give the Suns a level of inside toughness.
The Suns are thin on backup center, which means Landale will get rest while Bismack Biyombo is on the floor. Biyombo hasn’t played since Game 2.
Landley had an incredible performance in Game 3. He had six points, making all three of his shots. He earned nine rebounds and cheers from the Footprint Center crowd for his efforts.
Landale is not an athletic specimen like Deandre Ayton. He is tough and plays like an Australian, not afraid of contact or any challenge.
It can also be a somewhat offensive weapon. Phoenix is going to need whatever it can get from him.
Landale’s start could force Biyombo into heavy minutes and expand the Suns’ rotation. Phoenix could start Per backup guard Landry Schmett reports,
More adjustments from Monty Williams?
Williams is one of the NBA’s best schemer coaches. He has kept the Suns in the top offensive rating categories over the last three and a half seasons.
Phoenix is missing one of its best players in its offense with Ayton. He is used as a screen-and-roller and as a man playing in the “pocket” around the free-throw line. Landel will have to try to replace Ayton’s finishing ability and mid-range touch.
The Suns will also use Booker more as a playmaker. Paul is unavailable, so backup point guard Cameron Payne has big shoes to fill.
Phoenix needs all hands on deck to try to beat the Nuggets and force a Sunday Game 7 in Denver.
Game 6 will begin at 7 p.m. PT in Phoenix.