With two tough match ups this weekend followed by a stretch of winnable games, the Phoenix Suns may as well error on the side of caution with Baynes and Rubio.
Load management is all the buzz in the NBA right now. Luckily, the Phoenix Suns can’t afford load management, so discussion on that topic has been relatively quiet amongst Suns fans.
That being said, the Suns should definitely employ a version of load management for this weekend’s back-to-back when they play the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday before taking on the Denver Nuggets Sunday.
Even if the Suns were at full strength, beating the Denver Nuggets would be a challenge. Doable, yet difficult.
Beating them on the tail end of a back-to-back on the road while missing three starters would require some divine intervention. This group does not back down and will definitely bring every bit of energy they have into the game, but pragmatics will most likely win out here.
So, even if Baynes and Rubio were close to returning, which, apparently they might not be, the Suns should sit them out all weekend long in an effort to help expedite the healing process.
The Suns’ next game won’t be until Wednesday against the struggling Washington Wizards. That is a must-win game, especially if the Suns drop both games this weekend to extend their losing streak to five games.
That would be a game the Suns of two weeks ago run away with, but would also serve as the perfect return game for Rubio and Baynes, assuming, of course, their injuries are not of the lingering variety.
From there, the schedule continues to look winnable with games against the Dallas Mavericks (I already dread the Luka envy for this game), Charlotte Hornets, Orlando Magic, and New Orleans Pelicans (who the Suns could have beaten, even without Rubio, Baynes, and Ayton).
The Suns may be looking 5-straight losses in the face, but they are also looking at 5-straight wins immediately following that. They should plan accordingly.
Rest, or “manage the load”, of their banged-up stars during games they will have a hard time winning, and save them for the stretch of games that can lead to the building of some serious momentum going forward.
From there, the Suns early season mojo can pick up right where it left off.