Dario Saric of the Phoenix Suns is projected to miss the rest of the 2021 NBA Finals after tearing his ACL in his right knee during Game 1 against the Milwaukee Bucks.
In a statement released Wednesday, the Suns said Saric will be “out indefinitely.”
“It’s just one of those situations that literally breaks your heart,” Suns head coach Monty Williams told reporters. “Dario is a guy that I’ve been with twice. I coached him in Philly, and to get a chance to be with him here, he’s what Suns basketball is about.
“Hard worker, unbelievable guy and he was so looking forward to playing in these Finals. And to play a few minutes and have that kind of injury, it was a tough thing to hear this morning.”
Saric was driving past Bucks centre Brook Lopez late in the first quarter Tuesday night when his right knee buckled as he planted his foot in the paint.
Saric, 27, departed the game with 1:43 remaining in the first period and had to be helped to the Suns’ locker room. In barely two minutes, he had one rebound and one failed shot.
During Phoenix’s postseason run, the No. 12 overall selection in the 2014 NBA Draft averaged 4.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game.
The Suns used wing Torrey Craig and backup big man Frank Kaminsky to replace Saric’s minutes in Game 1’s 118-105 victory against the Bucks. Craig has been an important role player for the Suns in the playoffs, but Kaminsky hasn’t seen much action.
“We have different options,” Williams said. “Frank gives us quality size and playmaking ability. He’s smart.
“We went small [Tuesday] night with Torrey. We also have Doolie [Abdel Nadar], who can play some small ball. … So we’re just going to try to make those decisions on the fly. But those three guys come to mind.”
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Thursday night at Phoenix Suns Arena in Arizona.