Meanwhile Cam Payne was playing 15.4 minutes per game, averaging 3.8 points with one made three.
In game 5, 2021-22 NBA Coach of the Year Monty Williams made the biggest personnel adjustment of these playoffs so far for the Suns: Shamet played 19 minutes, Payne played 0.
Shamet: 8 points (2-5 FG, 1-3 3P), 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal
The positive impact he made becomes even more clear when looking at the breakdown of when his production came. In the first half, when the game was 50/50 and Shamet played 9:39 as the only bench guard to see the floor, he took and missed just one three and handed out one assist. Dry on all other counting stats.
Shamet’s production exploded in the third quarter when the Suns took control; he finished the frame with 5 points (including a rim attack with bad intentions where he drew free throws), 1 rebound, and 2 assists.
Suns were already up 14 when Shamet entered, but the lead ballooned to 22 by the end of the quarter.
The All-NBA guard stagger going on between Paul and Booker helped Shamet’s case, too, as he never had to shoulder the load of initiating the offense by himself, but when he did, he looked as decisive as he’s ever looked in a Suns uniform. Looking at the way the rotation for the night lined up, the perfectly lined-up stagger was always filled in by Shamet up until the starters came out with the game decided, and for the minutes that missed one of the big stars, it’s very impressive that the Suns were still above water: +4 for the game. For some of those minutes, he did his own little Booker impression:
If Landry Shamet has it going like this, just pack it up and go home pic.twitter.com/DjYASbRmdX— Shane Young (@YoungNBA) May 11, 2022
And he made an even bigger difference on defense, even when matched up against the comparably large Doncic.
thinking about how big of a difference shamet’s defense is from payne’s. pic.twitter.com/2xcfSmZkPB— damon allred (@iamdamonallred) May 11, 2022
As for my other suggested personnel tweak, Bismack Biyombo played a superb game in the near-absence of JaVale McGee. He’s been especially adept about handling the defensive side of the Doncic/Kleber pick-and-pop combo.
Bismack Biyombo is a plus-32 in 44 total minutes (3 games played) this series.— Matt Petersen (@TheMattPetersen) May 11, 2022
Suns won both games in which he cracked double-figure minutes.
If the Suns can get similar production from their depth pieces in Dallas on Thursday, they’ll pave a beautiful road for themselves leading to the Western Conference Finals.