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Phoenix Suns shooting guard Bradley Beal will be sidelined until early January with a right ankle injury.
Beal sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the New York Knicks last week. It was a crushing blow considering it was only his sixth game of the season.
X-rays were negative and an MRI revealed no structural damage. The Suns will evaluate Beal in early January.
Beal knocked down a 3-point shot but he landed on Donte DiVincenzo’s foot and rolled his ankle. Officials reviewed the incident and called DiVincenzo for a flagrant 1 foul since he failed to allow Beal space to land after his jump shot.
The Knicks held off the Suns, 139-122, thanks to a 50-point eruption by point guard Jalen Brunson. The Knicks hadn’t defeated a team with Kevin Durant in more than 10 years, but finally got off the schneid with the road victory.
Another Injury, Another Setback for Beal
The Suns acquired Beal in a blockbuster trade with the Washington Wizards in the offseason. They sent future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul and multiple draft picks to the Wizards, who then flipped Paul to the Golden State Warriors for shooting guard Jordan Poole.
Mat Ishbia purchased the Suns in the middle of last season for a record price tag of $4 billion. He wanted to put his imprint on the team by assembling a “Big 3” with Durant, Devin Booker, and Beal.
Beal missed most of this season with a back injury and his debut with the Suns was delayed while he recovered from a sprained back. He appeared in three games in November before he aggravated his ailing back, and was sidelined for almost another month.
Beal averaged 16.4 points per game in five full games before he went down with an ankle injury against the Knicks.
Without Beal, the Suns will rely on Devin Booker and Durant to provide additional scoring. The Suns are ranked #15 in the NBA in scoring and average 114.9 points per game. The Suns specifically added Beal to alleviate the scoring burden on their top two stars, but injuries derailed their plan.
There were only two games this season in which neither Booker nor Durant led the Suns in scoring. Guard Grayson Allen led the Suns with 26 points in an overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls in early November. Center Jusuf Nurkic dropped 31 points in a loss against the defending champion Denver Nuggets in early December.
Next Man Up: Grayson Allen, Eric Gordon
With Beal sidelined, the Suns will rely on the veteran tandem of Allen and Eric Gordon to log more minutes.
Head coach Frank Vogel experimented with Booker at point guard, and Allen started 22 games at shooting guard this season. Allen averages 12.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.
The Suns acquired Allen, formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, in a multiteam trade with the Portland Trail Blazers that sent Damian Lillard to the Bucks.
Gordon started 16 games for the Suns this season. He averages 13.8 points and 2.8 assists per game, and emerged as the Suns’ most reliable scorer aside from Durant and Booker.
Second-year guard Jordan Goodwin earned Vogel’s trust and he’s been logging 20 minutes per game off the bench. Goodwin, an undrafted player from St. Louis, averages 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game.
Banged-Up Suns Trying to Stay Above .500
The Suns had an 11-6 record in late November before they lost seven out of their last 10 games. They sunk to 14-13.
The Suns are one of the rare teams that play better on the road (7-5), and who have a losing record (7-8) on their home court.
The Suns are one of the worst betting teams in the NBA this season. They have a 10-16-1 record against the point spread.
Despite their slow start, the Suns are +850 odds to win the 2023-24 NBA Championship. They’re the fourth-highest team on DraftKings’ NBA futures board.
The Suns are +450 odds to win the Western Conference, and trail only the defending champion Denver Nuggets at +225 odds.
The Los Angeles Clippers (17-11) are the betting favorite to win the Pacific Division at +140 odds. They’re ahead of the Sacramento Kings (16-10) at +290 odds, the Suns at +400, the Los Angeles Lakers (15-14) at +600, and the slumping Golden State Warriors (13-14) at +1100.
The Suns are a +3.5 underdog when they visit Sacramento to play the Kings on Friday night. They host the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas evening during the NBA’s yuletide quintuple-header.
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