EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Bradley Beal in good spot for Suns return after caution with hamstring injury

Mar 2, 2024, 6:52 PM | Updated: 7:15 pm

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns adjusts his mask before the game against the Sacramento Kings a...

Bradley Beal #3 of the Phoenix Suns adjusts his mask before the game against the Sacramento Kings at Footprint Center on February 13, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Kings 130-125. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — It’s hard to think of anyone in the NBA this season who would have wanted to rush back from an injury more than Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal.

An ailing back, ankle sprain and broken nose he played through all have been parts of his debut year in the Valley before he tweaked his hamstring on Feb. 13 less than five minutes into a game. He went on to miss the next five contests, a stint that included the All-Star break and lasted 17 days.

He made his return to the lineup on Saturday.

Hamstring injuries are delicate, which is why taking every step to get 100% was what had to be done.

“And that’s what’s frustrating,” Beal said pregame. “If it’s an ankle, I’m out there. A hammy, as you know, it’s definitely a tricky one. Gotta be super smart about it, cautious with it, too. Because you know them things, they can sit you down. And I’ve had ’em before in the past. And I’ve had my full share of sitdowns and I know what it’s like to pull and tear and gratefully we haven’t had that. We’re in a good spot.”

Beal has been effective this season and in spurts looks every bit of the high-level player he is. In 30 games he’s shooting an efficient 49.5% from the field for 18.2 points per game.

Those spurts have of course come when he’s been healthy long enough, like a January stretch before his nasal fracture and a week following that when he was comfortable enough with a mask.

He said he believes he has to keep wearing the mask a few more weeks, even after having another procedure done over the break to complete the healing process fully. But Beal started Saturday without the mask, so perhaps he’s healed up enough.

As for the hamstring, it was about consistency at the gears he has to reach on the floor.

“Biggest thing is increasing the volume, increasing the intensity of things without it feeling like I’m about to go a length I don’t want to go,” Beal said. “And then sprinting. I’m a strider. Just being able to activate, get my full range of motion and the last few days have been that. Wanted to build some consistency in that and not just get caught up in a one-day, feel good and be set back so we built up a few days and comfortable with where we’re at now.”

After the All-Star break, he was ready to come back in at least one way.

“I would say yes mentally but my body was like, ‘No. Pump the brakes a little bit,'” he said.

Now he’s got both boxes checked for an uber-challenging stretch run.

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