Phoenix Suns backup point guard Cam Payne will not play in the team’s first game of the 2023 NBA playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday night due to a lower back injury, the team’s communication staff informed reporters.
Payne suffered the injury last Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers when he fell to the floor in the first half. His timetable to return is unknown.
“I think when you have ball handlers like Cam out, it does take away from your team, just because of what he brings as far as pace and scoring ability and energy to the team,” Suns coach Monty Williams said pregame.
Without Payne, the Suns could go to a lineup in which Devin Booker and backup guard Landry Shamet play at their guard spots. It was one of the lineups Suns coach Monty Williams tested in the team’s final games of the regular season.
Backup guard Damion Lee, who has the third-best 3-point percentage in the NBA this season, may also be an option.
The Suns’ point guard depth is perceived to be one of the weakest parts of their team. Phoenix does not have a true point guard outside of starter Chris Paul and Payne, which may complicate their bench options in this game.
The Clippers have the third-best scoring bench in the NBA (41.3 points per game), so Phoenix will have to match that in order to win this series