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Jalen Smith might see real playing time for Suns vs. Celtics

Celtics play two big men, while the Suns are missing most of their bigs tonight, including Deandre Ayton

Denver Nuggets v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams was non-committal, but with Deandre Ayton (ill, non-COVID), Frank Kaminsky (knee) and Dario Saric (knee) all out, the Suns are left with only JaVale McGee and Jalen Smith as healthy big men against the Boston Celtics tonight.

The Suns (20-4) tip off against the Celtics at 8:00 PM AZ time on ESPN. Also out for the Suns is Devin Booker (hamstring), while the Celtics are missing Jaylen Brown.

Williams said Smith might play some, while admitting that JaVale McGee likely still remains in his 4-6 minute stints where he’s most effective so the Suns would either have to go with Stix or Jae Crowder the other 24-30 minutes. Ish Wainwright is another burly option for the Suns.

The Celtics have both Robert Williams (6’10”) and Al Horford (6’11”) in their starting lineup, plus Enes Kanter Freedom so the Suns may not be able to survive by playing entirely small with Jae Crowder as the ‘center’ in a small-ball lineup.

Jalen Smith has hardly played since joining the Suns as a 20 year old first round pick (10th overall) from the 2020 Draft. He has appeared in only 36 of a possible 118 games since being drafted usually in mop-up duty, with almost no ‘real’ minutes with a game on the line.

This season, his sophomore campaign, Smith has appeared in 6 total games for a total of 36 minutes. Most recently, Smith made all three shots in mop-up time in the loss to the Warriors last Friday.

But tonight, Smith might get to see some real playing time.

Here are some highlights from the last year of Stix.