The Phoenix Suns are one game away from elimination in Kevin Durant’s first season in the Valley of the Sun and will reportedly be without their big man on Thursday.
Deandre Ayton, the first overall selection of the NBA Draft 2018has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Denver Nuggets because of a bruised rib, according to The Athletic.
He injured his rib during the first quarter of Game 5 in a collision with Bruce Brown.
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«I feel good. Everyone thought it took my breath away,» Ayton said of the injury after Game 5. It hurts a little bit.
The Nuggets lead the series 3-2.
The loss of Ayton is the last blow for Phoenix, and Chris Paul he will miss his fourth straight game with a left groin strain.
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Ayton has averaged 10.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in the series.
Phoenix will again be forced to lean heavily on Durant and protect Devin Booker as they try to force a Game 7.
In the Suns’ two victories, Durant and Booker led the charge, combining for 73 points in Game 3 and 72 points in Game 4.
«It’s about helping and playing and taking one possession at a time,» Durant said of the mentality for Game 6. «It’s about going out there and playing every possession like it’s your last.»
The Nuggets won Game 5 with a triple-double by Nicholas Jokic, and the series returns to Phoenix for Game 6.
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«Yeah. I’ve been here a few times,» Booker said after Game 5. «I love it. Every game has its own character. Every game is its own movie, its own different setup and everything to go with it. Let’s go see the movie, see how we can be better for Game 6.»
Associated Press contributed to this report