The Good Guys: The Phoenix Suns, last seen making everyone sad in Brooklyn
The Bad Guys: The Detroit Pistons, who like to play a much slower game than the Suns
Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills MI
When: 5:30 PM, Arizona Time
The Tube: Fox Sports AZ
The Chatterbox: 620 KTAR
Rival Blog: Detroit Bad Boys
The Suns have no time to sit on the pity potty after their most recent disappointment Tuesday night, in which they gave the Brooklyn Nets their fifth win of the season to suffer their sixth loss in eight games. Somehow, despite getting career years from both Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe so far, and chipping in a scalding hot 39.1% from 3 as a team, the Suns still stubbornly remain a largely mediocre team.
Their current 8-10 record is still good for an eighth-place tie with Minnesota in a suddenly weakened Western Conference, but there are so many obvious signs of another late-lottery finish in the desert that the script is basically writing itself at this point.
The Suns are struggling to defend without center Tyson Chandler, who is questionable again tonight with a hamstring injury, and are still waiting for someone to give Knight and Bledsoe a hand on offense, as Markieff Morris has gone 11-33 from the field since his breakout game in San Antonio on November 23.
The Detroit Pistons
Stan Van Gundy's team has cooled considerably since their hot start, standing currently at 9-9 after starting the season 5-1. Former Suns fan-favorite Marcus Morris is somehow managing to have a worse season from the field than his brother, shooting 25.7% from 3 on 3.9 attempts and 38.7% overall.
Andre Drummond's numbers have also tapered off a bit, as he's now only pulling down 16.9 boards per contest. He's also chipping in 18.4 points, but his infamously bad free-throw shooting (.382) is still limiting his effectiveness in the paint, as he again is posting a lower TS% (.515) than FG% (.532).
On the perimeter, the Pistons are struggling mightily as a team at .310 from behind the arc, which isn't stopping them from hoisting 25.8 a game. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver and Steve Blake are joining Morris in shooting under .312 for the season.
To balance out the assault of clunkers tossed in the general direction of the rims each night, the Pistons play slow (95.0 pace, 22nd in NBA) and defend well (101.1 DRtg, 7th in NBA). You know, the stuff that tends to give the Suns fits.
|Phoenix Suns||Detroit Pistons|
|G||Eric Bledsoe||Reggie Jackson|
|G||Brandon Knight||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope|
|F||P.J. Tucker||Marcus Morris|
|F||Markieff Morris||Ersan Ilyasova|
|C||Alex Len/Tyson Chandler (questionable)||Andre Drummond|
If Markieff is planning on showing up during this road trip, a matchup against the defensively-challenged Ilyasova would figure to improve the odds in his favor. If Chandler is unable to go, that means the Suns will be without a backup center to throw at Drummond should Len become fatigued or find himself in foul trouble. Yeesh.
Come back, Tyson.
The Pistons prevailed 100-92 in Phoenix back on November 6. Reggie Jackson led the way with 23 points and a handful of tough buckets down the stretch. Bledsoe and Knight were held to a 17-42 night from the field as the Pistons allowed virtually nothing in transition.
Again, Chandler is questionable with a hamstring injury. His has missed three of the last four games.
For the Pistons, Spencer Dinwiddie is questionable with a sore knee while Brandon Jennings and Jodie Meeks will both be out for a long while still.
I really do not like this matchup for the Suns, even if they weren't on a back-to-back and possibly missing their starting center. There will be plenty of time for our boys to flip the late-lottery script this season, but I don't see it happening in Motown.
Maybe the Suns can sneak in a last minute petition to Adam Silver to shorten the shotclock to 14 seconds. Assuming that doesn't happen, 98-89 Pistons.