Suns guard Cam Payne ruled out for Game 1 vs. Clippers with sore back

Apr 16, 2023, 3:15 PM | Updated: 4:38 pm

Phoenix Suns' Cameron Payne (15) goes to the basket as Houston Rockets' Josh Christopher (9) looks ...

Phoenix Suns' Cameron Payne (15) goes to the basket as Houston Rockets' Josh Christopher (9) looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

The Phoenix Suns will be without backup point guard Cam Payne in their Game 1 matchup vs. the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday night at Footprint Center.

Payne is nursing a sore lower back and was ruled out Sunday afternoon, according to the team. He was questionable to play entering the day.

Additionally, the Clippers ruled star Paul George (sprained right knee) out for Game 1. He is reportedly expected to miss the entire first round.

Payne — who is averaging 10.3 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game this season — took a tough fall on his lower back vs. the Los Angeles Lakers on April 7.

He averaged 20.2 minutes per contest in 48 games this season.

The guard participated in pregame warmups on Sunday:

Payne became a playoff hero for the Suns in 2021 against the Clippers with a 29-point performance in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Footprint Center.

Phoenix mixed up its starting lineup, inserting Torrey Craig in place of Josh Okogie. Craig is 6-foot-7 to Okogie’s 6-foot-4, giving Phoenix more size against Kawhi Leonard and L.A.

He will start alongside the usual suspects: Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton.

Los Angeles is starting Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Leonard, Nico Batum and Ivica Zubac.

The Suns enter the best-of-of-seven series having won seven of their past nine games and as the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.

Tip off is set for 5 p.m. Tune in on Arizona Sports 98.7, or the Arizona Sports app.

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