The Phoenix Suns will have two new faces in their starting lineup in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Denver Nuggets at home Thursday night.
Starters in Game 6. pic.twitter.com/108tV5I96v
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) May 12, 2023
Deandre Ayton is out with a rib contusion, so Jock Landale will start at center. Backup guard Landry Shamet, who had 19 points in Game 4 with five made 3-pointers, will start in place of wing Josh Okogie.
Since point guard Chris Paul is unavailable with a left groin strain, Cameron Payne will start for the third straight game.
The Suns trail their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets, three games to two. Phoenix needs to win Thursday night in order to force a Game 7 Sunday in Denver.
The Suns will need to rely heavily on guard Devin Booker and forward Kevin Durant. Booker, who has averaged 35.9 points, 7.1 assists and 5.2 rebounds in 10 postseason games, is dealing with a foot injury suffered in the first half of Phoenix’s 118-102 loss in Game 5 Tuesday night.
Durant has been inconsistent. He had 39 and 36 points, respectively, in Games 3 and 4 at home but shot a combined 20-of-51 in Games 2 and 5 on the road.
The Suns’ star forward has also struggled massively from the 3-point line, shooting 22.2 percent from there this series.
Phoenix will rely on Landale to — if possible — slow down Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 35.0 points on 57.5 percent shooting (47.1 percent from 3-point range) with 13.8 rebounds and 10.0 assists this series.
Shamet is expected to help the Suns’ defensive efforts against Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who is averaging 24.6 points on 45.4 percent shooting. Murray has had at least 28 points in three of five games this series.
Game 6 between the Suns and Nuggets tips off at 7 p.m. PT. It will be televised by ESPN.