Suns Center Ruled Out For Game 6

Phoenix Suns starting center DeAndre Ayton is reportedly ruled out of Thursday's Game 6 second-round matchup against the Denver Nuggets due to a rib contusion, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania. 

Ayton sustained the injury during the Sun's Game 5 loss on Tuesday (118-102) when he collided with Nuggets guard Bruce Brown during the end of the first quarter. Ayton remained in the game during its duration, and finished with 14 points while also grabbing nine rebounds in 31 minutes of total play. 

However, it seems the injury was worse than initial reports. 

Phoenix (3-2) is now entering Thursday's matchup facing elimination without their former No. 1 overall pick, and were already playing without their starting point guard Chris Paul, who has been ruled out due to a groin injury that he previously sustained in Game 2 of the series. The Suns chances of winning may now solely rest on the heroics of their superstars Devin Booker and Kevin Durant as they try to force a Game 7 @ Denver. 

Ayton is averaging a career low 13.4 points per game in his 2022-23 playoff campaign thus far, which is down from his 18 points during the regular season. Backup center Jock Landale has seen surprising play during this series as a result of Ayton's lackluster performances, and even started the fourth quarter over Ayton during the club's Game 3 victory. 

Landale looks to be the favorite to start during Ayton's absence, and Bismack Biyombo is another option on Phoenix's reserves who could receive some minutes as well. 

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