The Phoenix Suns were without Deandre Ayton in the first quarter of Monday’s pivotal game against the Oklahoma City Thunder after the big man missed his daily coronavirus test on Sunday, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Ayton was retested Monday morning and was able to rejoin the Suns once his results showed he was negative for the virus. The NBA, which has not had a single player test positive for COVID-19 since restarting its season in Orlando, takes its protocols very seriously.
After riding a stationary bike to loosen up, Ayton checked in at the start of the second quarter, with the Suns already facing a 37-23 deficit (though they went on to win comfortably 128-101).
Phoenix has two games left and entered Monday one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the 9-seed and 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8-seed A play-in tournament between the 8- and the 9-seeds will determine who gets the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.
The Suns have been the hottest team in the bubble so far, winning their first six games. Ayton has had a huge hand in that, averaging 16.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field.
It has otherwise been a tough year for the former Wildcat, who was suspended for the first 25 games of the season after failing a drug test and later missed several games due to a severe ankle injury.