Denver Nuggets SG/SF Will Barton is expected to return to the lineup for Game 2 of their second-round series against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in the afternoon. Barton is going to test his hamstring during warmups and if everything is fine, he’ll return to the lineup. The Nuggets trail the best-of-7 series 1-0 after losing Game 1 on Monday night.
Update: Barton will play on a minutes restriction of around 12-18 vs. the Suns in Game 2.
Barton has been sidelined since April 23 after suffering the hamstring injury. The Nuggets have been starting a backcourt of Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, so if Barton is able to get back, that’ll be a nice boost at the guard position. The Nuggets are also listing Michael Porter Jr. as questionable to play in Game 2 due to back tightness. If MPJ is out and Barton is in, we could see the latter starting in his first game back.
Barton had a down season overall, dealing with injuries for most of the shortened regular season. He averaged 12.7 points and 4.0 rebounds on 43/38/78 shooting splits. Barton hasn’t played a playoff game since 2018-19, missing the 2020 playoffs in the bubble last season when the Nuggets defeated the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers to reach the Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets are currently 5-point underdogs to the Suns in Game 2. If MPJ is ruled out and Barton isn’t able to return, expect that line to move further in favor of Phoenix. Barton’s first game back shouldn’t move the needle at all. Expect him to be on a minutes restriction or some kind of monitoring.