Just over two weeks ago, after the Phoenix Suns had started the Kevin Durant era 3-0, the MVP candidate and 10-time All-Star turned his ankle in pregame warmups and hasn’t been seen in a Suns uniform since.
One local report had Durant being out 4-6 weeks. National insiders said the return was targeted for three weeks. The Suns themselves issued a statement that he would be re-evaluated in three weeks, which usually means more time out beyond the three week date.
Turns out the middle reports were right.
As many expected, Durant is planning to return to the Suns lineup exactly three weeks after turning his ankle, in a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Phoenix Suns' 13-time All-Star Kevin Durant (sprained ankle) is progressing toward a potential return to action on Wednesday vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, barring any setback, league sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 24, 2023
Wednesday is Mar. 29, which is one day before the team’s initial re-evaluation date. If Durant is able to make the target date, Phoenix will have seven games to come together and work out any kinks before the playoffs, and it’s a mostly-stacked slate:
- 3/29: vs Minnesota Timberwolves
- 3/31: vs Denver Nuggets
- 4/2: @ Oklahoma City Thunder
- 4/4: vs San Antonio Spurs
- 4/6: vs Denver Nuggets
- 4/7: @ LA Lakers
- 4/9: vs LA Clippers
It’s easy to forget that Durant still is yet to suit up for the Suns in front of the home crowd at Footprint Center, but if there’s any silver lining here, it’s that five of the seven games before the playoffs are at Footprint. The Suns have already been a more-than-respectable 23-12 at home without him.
With 10 or fewer games left for just about every team, there’s 3.0 games between #4 Phoenix and #12 Utah. The Suns’ hold on #4 is slim; they’re tied with the Clippers and have a 1.0-game lead over the Warriors and 2.0-game lead over the Wolves, who the Suns and Durant will see soon. Here are the three remaining games before his targeted return:
What a race it’ll be down the stretch in the West.
But whatever happens between now and Durant’s return, the Suns are set up for success in the playoffs.
Vegas oddsmakers, including those at DraftKings, now have the Suns with the best odds to win the Western Conference and make the NBA Finals.