Bradley Beal made his long awaited Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night and though he didn’t make an appearance in overtime, he did help the Suns pick up the win in Chicago.
Though he was on a minutes restriction that kept him under 24 minutes and on the sidelines in crunch time and overtime, Brad still scored 13 points and chipped in with four rebounds, four assists and a block as Phoenix prevailed with a 116-115 victory over the Bulls.
After the game, No. 3 talked about getting on the court with his teammates for real for the first time.
“It felt like I hadn’t played in a while. But more than anything it felt good just to be back out there with the guys,” he said. “Obviously we were being precautionary with the minutes and everything like that, but I felt good. I knew [I wouldn’t play in overtime]. That’s a little frustrating but I’m glad we pulled out the win. We’re a great team with a lot of depth and that next man up mentality. Guys stepped up and made big plays.”
Brad didn’t get to finish the game, but he did get to start and was hot early, hitting back-to-back threes in the fourth and fifth minute of the game, as Phoenix raced out to an early 17-4 lead. But he would make just one more shot the rest of the evening, a three to open the scoring for the Suns in the third quarter.
“It was a little tough,” he said of trying to find his shot after the hot start. “Spacing wasn’t good, got to work out a few kinks. But for the most part I liked every shot I had,” he said. “My catch and shoots felt great, free throws felt good and basket attacks were cool, finally got some. It’s a lot to build on.”
In between, Chicago made a comeback and Brad’s early second half triple actually tied the score at 60-60. However, teammates like Kevin Durant and Grayson Allen carried the freight and Phoenix played strong in the fourth quarter in overtime, using timely scoring and getting big stops to secure their fourth win of the season. Brad believes with Allen playing at a high level and Devin Booker due back soon, the Suns are in good shape.
“You’ve got to respect everybody on the floor,” he said. “I try to be a three-level scorer. That gives guys that much more space and gives guys like K, and when Book gets back, more opportunities just having space to create and operate. You have to pick your poison. I’m just happy I’m able to fill in that void.”
Brad hopes that he’ll be able to fill that void more and more as the season goes on, eventually returning to playing the amount of time and at the level that he’s accustomed to. But as he eases back in from an injury that is new to him, he’s leaning on the Phoenix training staff to help him handle the ailment and improve daily so he’s in it for the long haul.
“It’s frustrating and it is tricky,” he said. “It’s a fine line between, you don’t want to push through something that could make it worse and is it something you may have to push through. I had no idea and we’re kind of approaching it like it’s a day-to-day and treating it as best we can. Every workout is different. I would have good days and bad days in terms of how I felt afterwards. That was the biggest challenge. I can push through any workout. I can be hard-headed and go play 30 minutes but how will I feel after that? Probably not the greatest. So that’s where I lean on our staff and our doctors to kind of be the voice for me. There’s a lot of times where they just tell me to sit down and be smart about it.”
The Suns return to action Friday night when they host the Los Angeles Lakers in what could be Brad’s Phoenix debut. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. local time and the game can be seen on ESPN.