It only took the Phoenix Suns the first-quarter of the 2023-24 NBA season, but they finally have their three star players healthy at the same time. Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal taking to the court together for the first time on Wednesday, in a matchup featuring former Suns Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson.
The Suns would lose this one, dropping to 13-11 in the process and showing their fans that - just because they have their top three guys available together - does not mean that picking up wins and going on a run is going to be easy.
But now that head coach Frank Vogel has a much stronger deck to work with, the short-term goals for the franchise have got to change.
Although it is by no means time to panic, sitting at 10th in the Western Conference halfway through December does not make for great viewing. The Suns might still fancy themselves against the unproven Minnesota Timberwolves in a seven game series, but they are going to need homecourt advantage for as long as possible once the postseason begins.
Getting left behind at this early stage - they're 5.5 games back on the leading Timberwolves, and 2.5 behind the second placed Denver Nuggets - only adds to the pressure of trying to bring The Valley the first win in the organization's history. Watching Bridges and Johnson not only come back, but get received better than some current Suns players while winning, stings a little too.
3. Win four games in a row
The Suns won seven games in a row earlier this season, but that seems like a long time ago now. They did this without Beal - but players like Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen outplayed their roles during this period - although when on the court both Durant and Booker played at an MVP level.
Since that run the Suns have gone 2-5, failing to win more than one game in a row during that time. So it would be great if a fully healthy version of this group could string together a couple of wins to boost the vibes around this team. Luckily for the Suns, they have a chance to do just this in the run up to a Christmas Day tilt against the Dallas Mavericks.
Their next three games are against the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards - both at home - before travelling to Portland to take on the Trail Blazers. The Suns have beaten the Knicks in Madison Square Garden already this season, the final game of that seven game winning streak, and should have no fears in the rematch back in The Valley.
The Wizards are one of the worst teams in the league, while they have already beaten the Trail Blazers as well. The fourth game in this hypothetical run is away to the Sacramento Kings - by far the toughest fixture here - but by that point in theory that will be Beal's sixth game back, and the trio will need a notable win against a good team to really begin to kick on.