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"We are going to be 100 percent certain before we put him into a live basketball game, where you face a lot more risk than you do just getting yourself ready to play," Suns president and general manager Bryan Colangelo said.

Johnson was not at practice on Monday. Instead, he was seeing doctors and having more adjustments done on the protective mask designed for him to wear when he does return. There have been difficulties finding a good fit because of the changes in swelling in Johnson's cheek.

Jim Jackson moved into the starting lineup and Phoenix went on to win the Dallas series. But the deeper the Suns go into the playoffs, the more Johnson is needed.

"Just giving us more depth and more options, plus he's obviously a terrific player," Steve Nash said.

Johnson is the team's most accurate 3-point shooter and can produce points with pull-up jumpers or drives to the hoop.

"He's got that big body that can pinch in there," the Spurs' Tim Duncan said.

Johnson, who stands 6-foot-7, is most missed on defense, D'Antoni said.

"He's a big guy, and he can guard a lot of different people," the coach said. "That can force a team to change its game."

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