NBA Finals Injury Update: What Dario Saric’s Injury Means for Suns & Bucks
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Dario Saric, Phoenix Suns
On the surface, the loss of a back-up big man might not seem that significant. But Dario Saric suffering a season-ending ACL tear could have a big impact on the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks.
Saric suffered in the injury in Game 1 and did not return. The team announced the diagnosis on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old big averaged just 17 minutes per game during the regular season, marking career-lows with 8.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Those numbers drop to 10.5 minutes, 4.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in the playoffs.
However, his impact goes well beyond the standard box score.
Here’s insight from The Action Network NBA expert Matt Moore:
Saric provided a key role on the Suns as their backup smallball center. His combination of shooting and on-ball versatility provided a completely different look for opponents. The Suns had their best on-court net rating with Saric of any player on roster in the playoffs, outscoring opponents by 12.1 points per 100 possessions.
Without him, the Suns will be forced to play Deandre Ayton heavier minutes and either play super small with Torrey Craig at center (as they did in the second half of Game 1) or turn to Frank Kaminsky for backup center options. The Bucks’ tendency to go small with Giannis Antetokounmpo or PJ Tucker at the five makes the loss easier to adjust to, but it is one less weapon for the Suns vs. Milwaukee.
Saric has two more seasons at less than $10 million on contract with Phoenix, as he’s next up for free agency in 2023.
The Suns hold a 1-0 series lead after taking a 118-105 victory in Game 1 on Tuesday. Phoenix is a 5-point favorite in Game 2 on Thursday, with the total sitting at 220.5 (real-time odds here).
Phoenix is -300 to win the series with Milwaukee coming back as a +250 underdog.