What: Detroit Pistons vs. Phoenix Suns
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills Auburn Hills, MI
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a pretty bad 107-93 home loss to the Orlando Magic and will be looking to bounce back when they host the Phoenix Suns tonight at the Palace. Through the season’s first 11 games, the Pistons season has followed a familiar theme from last year: play well for three quarters and then completely collapse in the fourth. That’s what happened on Monday when the Magic outscored Detroit 29-17 in the final stanza to take control. Here’s what it’s going to take to beat the Suns:
1.) The Suns triumvirate of point guards Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, and Isaiah Thomas all average at least 15 points per game. It is imperative that the backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope play them to at least a draw. In last season’s 110-108 win over the Suns, Jennings had 18 assists and forced Dragic into six turnovers which was a big factor for Detroit. Jennings is going to need to continue his strong play as of late and lead the Pistons to a much needed win.
2.) While the backcourt advantage goes to the Suns, the frontline is clearly in Detroit’s favor. Josh Smith had 25 points, 11 rebounds, and he made the game-winning runner in last season’s home win over the Suns so Smith will have to be just as impactful in this game. Andre Drummond has been off to a rough start, averaging just 8.7 points on 41.4% shooting, but I feel like this is the night where Drummond breaks out and has a terrific game. Greg Monroe has been a stabilizing force this season, pouring in 15.6 points and 10.3 rebounds thus far, and Detroit should be able to grind Phoenix into submission with their frontline.
3.) Again, this one is probably going to come down to the fourth quarter. Even in last season’s win over the Suns, the Pistons blew a double-digit lead down the stretch before they were able to escape with the victory. Detroit is averaging 19.5 points in the fourth quarter this season. That’s only ahead of winless Philadelphia so the closing quarter execution has to get better if this team wants to start winning. Maybe give more time to Caron Butler and such. This team has too much talent (and a great coach like Stan Van Gundy) to be averaging under 20 points in any quarter. It’s only been 11 games so there’s time to turn this thing around, but it has to start now for the Pistons.
Prediction: Pistons 104 Suns 98