The Pistons have been adjusting their rotation as they look for a winning formula. The Suns, meanwhile have won three of four but are more vulnerable than they appear.
Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Phoenix Suns: 7 - 8 (2-6)
Detroit Pistons: 4 - 11 (3-3 home)
The first loss the Pistons suffered on their ill-fated trip out west came at the hands of these Suns. A 92-89 defeat where everyone on the Pistons couldn't shoot and five Phoenix players scored from 13 to 16 points. But these aren't really the same Pistons and the Suns aren't quite as good as they first appear.
The Pistons, of course, feature a new starting shooting guard, a new backup point guard and a new backup power forward. And we might see even more changes tonight if Lawrence Frank is to be believed. The Suns, also, are not what they appear.
Thanks to the torrid pace they run with, a Suns staple for more than a decade now, their offense isn't quite as strong. Their 99.9 points per game is good for seventh-best in the NBA but their offensive efficiency ranks just 12th. And while their 101.6 points allowed ranks 29th their defensive efficiency bumps them up to 25th.
Their record, also, isn't all it's cracked up to be. They have seven wins but their opponents in those victories? Detroit, Charlotte, Cleveland, Denver, Portland, New Orleans and Cleveland again. Of course, the Pistons aren't exactly a good team. But if the Pistons seeming incremental improvement lately can be believed then a close loss where Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey all struggled could become a close win relatively easily.
Keys to the Game
Limit turnovers - More specifically, Brandon Knight needs to take care of the ball against Goran Dragic. Dragic is an underrated guard offensively but he is also third in the NBA with 32 steals on the season. Pistons guards don't even have that number combined. Knight has had a string of good offensive games lately and against the Suns' porous defense that should continue. But he can't give up the ball and give a mediocre offensive team easy baskets.
Dominate the paint - The Pistons have been scoring in droves in the painted area. But the Suns Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola are both dangerous big men and if Greg Monroe gives a lackluster defensive effort both players smart, crafty and dangerous near the rim. But both will also often settle for jumpers. The Pistons need to defend the paint and win the rebound war -- all areas where the Suns struggle.
Don't be shy about shooting 3s - Knight's been hot from distance, Singler has been hot from just about anywhere on the floor and even Villanueva stopped front-rimming his hoists for 3. The Suns, meanwhile, give up a staggering 41 percent on 3s, surrendering around eight per game.
Questions of the Game:
Assuming it is not a blowout either way, who sees time on the floor for the Pistons tonight?