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Pistons vs. Suns Preview: Detroit tries to climb back into playoff race

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This is the definition of a must-win game

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The bad news is that the Pistons have lost three straight and fallen out of playoff positioning in the East. The good news, insomuch as three embarrassing losses can contain good news, is that those losses came against some of the NBA’s best teams.

A pissed off Cleveland Cavaliers team slaughtered the Pistons, the Jazz, with their all-around solid play and stifling defense (shades of 2004 Pistons), and clutching defeat from the jaws of victory against the Toronto Raptors.

But back to the good news — the schedule now gets much, MUCH, easier, and that starts tonight against the Phoenix Suns.

Game Vitals

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
When: Sunday, March 19, 4:30 p.m.
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

The Phoenix Suns are mired in another miserable season, with the third worst record in the NBA. But there are positive signs and semblances of a team having fun. Eric Bledsoe was turning in an All-Star type season, Devin Booker was still saddled with way too much offensive responsibility, but started hitting shots on a more consistent basis. The team had intriguing prospects like Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and TJ Warren. The Suns even won three straight games in early February.

The threat of becoming a good bad team was too much for Suns management, however, with a lottery pick to protect, and they took action. Tyson Chandler was shut down. Bledsoe, the team’s best player by a mile, was also decommissioned. Bender was lost to injury and a back injury has sidelined former Piston Brandon Knight. The team has now lost five of six. In that span, the Suns are scoring 103 points per game but allowing opponents to score 112.5, better than only Brooklyn.

Booker is an up-and-down player so far in his young career, but he is currently on an upswing. He is scoring 18.5 points on a line of 41.9/37/90 in the team’s last six on a team-high 36.8 points per game. Warren is also taking advantage of climbing up the team’s offensive food chain with 18 points on 55.6 percent shooting. The springy small forward is also averaging 8.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

Lastly, let me just say that I am looking forward to seeing Tyler Ulis and Ish Smith battle it out on the court.

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Suns: Tyler Ulis, Devin Booker, TJ Warren, Marquese Chriss, Alex Len

Score Prediction

Both teams score over 108 points, but Detroit better have the most at the end of the game.

Community Question

Any of today’s late tournament games worth watching from an NBA Draft perspective?