The Phoenix Suns have lost two straight games, and have another tough upcoming assignment in the Minnesota Timberwolves next. After that, a chance to notch some much needed wins with two games against the Utah Jazz. A team the Suns have already beaten this season.
Panic may be setting in with some regarding the direction this still young season is going, although it would certainly help if they had a fully healthy roster to choose from. Kevin Durant has done it all for this group, but Devin Booker has been limited to only two appearances so far.
Then there is Bradley Beal, who has suited up for the team in the last few games, but who continues to deal with a tweak in his back dating back to preseason.
Beal has put up 17.3 points in the three games he has played in so far, which ordinarily might not be a problem. Except he hasn’t played alongside Booker and so Durant needs all of the help he can get for an offense that has been stuttering and downright awful in the fourth-quarter of games so far.
Many had hoped that playing in a couple of games meant Beal was over the worst of his nagging back issue. When he last spoke to the media however, the update he gave was not nearly as positive as fans would have liked, as he explained;
"“It’s a little tight (his back). It was a little tight all night. It affected me a little bit (in the loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder), but I can’t use that as an excuse. I was out there, I elected to be out there so I just didn’t bring it the way I should have. But it’s definitely tight.”"
Even more concerning, when asked if there was a specific play or moment when Beal felt his back begin to tighten, he said that there was not. Rather, it was just the accumulation of playing 30 minutes, third only to Durant and Grayson Allen,
Beal also expressed a desire to keep playing and not miss any more time or even be put on a minute’s restriction. Given the cautious approach of the organization to this point though, it does not seem likely that Beal will be able to continue as he has since coming back from the injury in the first place.
Head coach Frank Vogel already effectively had him on a minutes restriction of sorts, but that may ramp up again in the wake of Beal’s comments. With the Suns floundering so far this season – and with a concerning 4-6 record and two losses to the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs – they need to get a fully healthy Beal back out there, and soon.
Beal’s back issues may go some way to explaining why the Suns have struggled so much in the fourth-quarter of games as well. The blame cannot be placed entirely on him – he has only played three games after all – but the team has looked to Beal to help carry them home in some games, and he has been unable to do so.
The sooner Beal is back to being the three-time All-Star we know he is, the better for the franchise. The problem there is that backs are tricky to manage, Beal himself mentioned how this is the first time he’s had an issue with that part of his body in his career so far, and if he can’t pinpoint the moment it got tight again while playing, he is still some way off being fully back.
The fact Booker is also missing has compounded Beal’s lack of game time even more. He was always meant to be the third option, and right now the Suns need him to be a lot more than that. It is unclear yet if Beal is going to miss any time, but with the schedule getting a bit softer after the Timberwolves game, that would appear the ideal time to let him take some time to recover.
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