The Phoenix Suns will look to start the 2023-24 NBA season 2-0 on Thursday night and will attempt to do so without both Devin Booker and Bradley Beal against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Booker is dealing with a foot issue and Beal will be out with a lower-back injury, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.
During the Suns' win over the Golden State Warriors in Tuesday's season opener, Booker led all players with 32 points. Beal did not play and has not played since an Oct. 16 preseason game. He was on the floor for 18 minutes of the Suns' preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers but struggled with his shot while scoring 11 points with two assists and two steals. It's not known if the back issue was hampering Beal at that point, but later that week the Suns announced Beal was dealing with low back tightness and wouldn't play in their preseason finale against the Lakers.
"Next man up mentality," said Kevin Durant via Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. "We hope for Book and Brad to get back as soon as possible. We'll try to hold down the fort for them."
Thursday's Lakers-Suns matchup is a highly anticipated one as it will be the first regular-season meeting between LeBron James and Durant since Dec. 25, 2018. Injuries have played a factor in why the two NBA greats have missed each other in the 13 games played between their respective teams over the last five years.
James and Durant have played against one another 21 times in their careers, with James holding a 15-6 advantage in the regular season and Durant up 9-5 in postseason showdowns. Durant also holds the 2-1 lead in NBA Finals against James after the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and 2018. James came out on top when the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals.