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Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr., Will Barton active for Game 2 vs. Suns

Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) looks to pass as Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker defends during Game 1 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Monday, June 7, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Nuggets wings Michael Porter Jr. and Will Barton are available against the Phoenix Suns for Denver’s Game 2 of the second-round series.

Porter is in the starting lineup Wednesday after tweaking his back on Monday. He went through shooting drills before the game with a heat pack on his back.

Denver head coach Mike Malone said Porter told him earlier Wednesday that he was feeling better after two days of treatment and that the training staff had to sign off on Porter to play.

Porter has averaged 18.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in seven games this postseason while shooting 53% from the floor and 41% from three-point range.

Barton hasn’t played since April 23 due to a hamstring injury. Malone said that Barton will play on a “very limited” minutes restriction.

“… You don’t come back from missing seven weeks and just go out there and play your usual minutes,” Malone said before the game. “He’d be on a very limited minute restriction if he is indeed able to play tonight.”

Barton averaged 12.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in the regular season.

He gives the Nuggets another playmaker off the bounce who can also create his own shot, a key thing for a team that has injuries impacting the backcourt.

“He’s a huge part of their team,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He’s got good size and moves well without the ball and can score the ball.

“We expected him to play in Game 1. When he didn’t, we were somewhat surprised.”

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