Phoenix Suns backup guard Cameron Payne is available to play in Tuesday’s Game 5 of the team’s first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers after he missed the first four games of this round due to a lower back injury.
Payne will be on a minutes restriction, per coach Monty Williams.
Payne’s return is much-needed for the Suns, who have yet to find a consistent identity with their bench this series. Phoenix has relied on forward Kevin Durant and guard Devin Booker extensively.
Durant and Booker rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in playoff points per game.
The Suns have often relied on Booker to play at point guard behind starter Chris Paul. Backup guards Landry Shamet and Damion Lee have filled in for the Suns’ backcourt this series.
A fourth-year player in Williams’ system along with Booker and center Deandre Ayton, Payne averaged 10.3 points and 4.5 assists in 48 games this season. He shot 41.5 percent from the field and 36.8 percent from 3-point range.
Payne suffered the injury when he fell in the first half of the Suns’ 121-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He had 13 points in the first two quarters, which was fourth-most on the Suns for the entirety of the game.