When: Tuesday, Dec. 12 — at 8:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Footprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Listen: KMVP 98.7 FM
The In-Season Tournament is now behind the Suns and the rest of the NBA. It is time to once again focus on the task at hand, which is putting together a string of victories, and moving up in the standings. After three days off, Phoenix is looking to welcome back Bradley Beal to the starting lineup. It’s been since November 12 against the Oklahoma City Thunder since we’ve seen him play.
Kevin Durant and Devin Booker reassured Beal the team would be OK and he needed to get to 100 percent with his back issue.— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) December 12, 2023
Bradley: “Honestly, I probably would have played and been hard-headed probably through the process if I didn’t listen to my teammates.” pic.twitter.com/BcPpjbcBcT
His first test is going to come against a Golden State Warriors team in a nationally televised game on TNT. The Warriors, who come in 10-12, are not the same lethal presence that they were just two seasons ago. While Steph Curry continues to be an elite offensive player, Draymond Green is moodier (he missed games this season due to suspension, including the last matchup against the Suns), Thompson is struggling (shooting a career-worst 35.4% from three-point range), and the team became older with the addition of Chris Paul this off-season.
And no, Scott Foster will not be officiating this one. We know what happened last time, Chris Paul and Scott Foster crossed paths, which happened right here in downtown Phoenix.
The Warriors, like the Suns, have yet to find their footing this season. They too are a team in the middle, as they possess a +0.4 net rating (17th), which isn’t far off from Phoenix’s +2.2 (14th).
So as we once again welcome Chris Paul and Dario Saric back, this time with (hopefully) the Suns’ Big Three, we hope that the Suns can move their record to 3-0 against their Pacific Division rival.
Update: Kevin Durant is OUT.
- Devin Booker
- Bradley Beal
- Eric Gordon
- Keita Bates-Diop
- Jusuf Nurkic
- Steph Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Andrew Wiggins
- Draymond Green
- Kevon Looney
Bradley Beal — AVAILABLE (Low Back Strain)
Kevin Durant — OUT (Left Ankle Sprain)
Grayson Allen — OUT (Right Groin Strain)
Damion Lee — OUT (Right Meniscus Surgery)
Nassir Little — OUT (Concussion Protocol)
Gary Payton Jr. — OUT (knee)
What to Watch For
All of our eyes will be fixated on the chemistry between Devon Booker and Bradley Beal.
The two have yet to play a game together, so it will be the spacing, gravity, and playmaking that exist between the two that is most intriguing. Will it be free-flowing? Or will it be more of a “your turn, my turn” type of offense?
Don’t be surprised if it’s the latter.
We saw this with Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving when they were learning to play together. Both wanted to be selfless and allow the other to cook, but both are used to being chefs in their own kitchen as well. Bradley Beal has been an alpha on his team for a decade, and while he’s willing to take a backseat, it is easier said than done.
The substitution patterns will be interesting as well. Frank Vogel was very deliberate the first time Beal was available this season, limiting his minutes in an effort to ease him into basketball shape (and avoid further back injury). Beal played in 23 minutes, 31 minutes, and 30 minutes in his three appearances this season.
Key to a Suns Win
The Warriors are second in the NBA with 47.3 rebounds a game, and fourth with 13.2 offensive rebounds. The Suns have struggled as of late, allowing 12 offensive rebounds (10th) in December. The Suns must focus on the glass and negating extra possessions.
We know that those extra possessions turn into Steph Curry daggers from deep.
The reinsertion of Bradley Beal into the lineup cannot be understated. He is an elite scorer, just as Kevin Durant is. “That’s the nightmares that all coaches have trying to guard Brad,” Devin Booker said of Beal. “He’s a problem.”
Beal’s return will energize Booker, who will have a classic Booker game tonight. I’m calling for 40 points. And, of course, a Suns’ win.
Suns 118, Warriors 110