When: 5:00 pm (Phoenix time)
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM
Fresh off a much needed win in Chicago yesterday, the Suns now face a more daunting foe in the Motor City. The Pistons (13-6) are a very good team this year and are coming off a 118-108 road win against the Boston Celtics (18-4) on Monday night. The Suns should be road weary on the second night of a back-to-back but that often hasn't seemed to matter this year as they are 3-2 in second games.
On paper, this game shouldn't even be close but the games aren't played on paper.
Andre Drummond is still a beast on the boards averaging 15.6 rpg this season as well as adding 14.4 ppg. He's also leading the team in blocks (1.2), steals (1.5) and is third in assists (3.5). He's also raised his notoriously bad free throw shooting (39.2% career avg) to 61.8% this season. Against the Celtics on Monday night he had his best game of the season with 26 points, 22 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals while hitting 83.3% of his FG attempts and 75.0% of his free throws (6-8).
And Drummond has plenty of help offensively. Tobias Harris is leading the Pistons in points per game with 19.1 with Avery Bradley (16.7 ppg) and Reggie Jackson (15.4 ppg) not far behind. Harris has had three 30+ point games this season and is having a career year in three point shooting with a 47.4% average for the season on 6.1 attempts. Avery Bradley isn't far behind Harris in three point percentage at 43.3% and Reggie Jackson is also hitting 38.4% of his threes. As three point defense is still a weakness of the Suns (24th), expect the Pistons to let them rain tonight.
Also expect to see some familiar faces when the Pistons start subbing in their bench. Former Suns Ish Smith, Jon Leuer, Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Bullock are all averaging 16 to 20 minutes per game for the Pistons this season. Plenty of former Suns on this team so take your pick as to which one has a career night tonight against their old team.
Likely Starting Lineup
PG - Reggie Jackson
SG - Avery Bradley
SF - Stanley Johnson
PF - Tobias Harris
C - Andre Drummond
Points: Tobias Harris (19.1)
Rebounds: Andre Drummond (15.6)
Assists: Reggie Jackson (5.9)
Offensively the Suns fortunes still rely mostly on the scoring of Devin Booker (23.0 ppg) and T.J. Warren (18.9 ppg) but, without some quality performances by the supporting cast, they can't carry the team by themselves. To have a chance against the Pistons, the Suns are going to need well above average games from Booker and Warren, a solid defensive effort from everyone and someone else to step up their offensive game so that the Pistons can't simply concentrate their defensive efforts on stopping Booker and Warren.
And who will Jay Triano start tonight? Dragan Bender got his first career start in Chicago last night but was largely ineffective as he missed both of his shot attempts. Yes, he only attempted two shots in 23 minutes on the court. Alex Len (13 pts, 18 rebs) by far outplayed starter Tyson Chandler (1 pt, 5 rebs) so perhaps it's time to move him into the starting lineup too? Greg Monroe got his first DNP-CD as a Sun against Chicago so it will be interesting to see if he is excluded from the rotation tonight against the team that originally drafted him.
The Suns will also need to keep their assists up. They've averaged 25.0 per game in their last two contests after averaging a pitiful 13.5 in their two previous games.
Likely Starting Lineup
PG - Tyler Ulis
SG - Devin Booker
SF - T.J. Warren
PF - Dragan Bender (?)
C - Tyson Chandler
Points: Devin Booker (23.0)
Rebounds: Alex Len (9.7)
Assists: Devin Booker (4.2)
Suns: The usual suspects (no one out that you didn't already expect to be out).
Pistons: Jon Leuer - day-to-day (ankle)
T.J. Warren vs everyone
The Suns are 5-0 in games in which T.J. Warren scores 25 or more points.
The Pistons outrank the Suns in every important NBA category except pace and - surprisingly - rebounding. This is going to be a very difficult game for the Suns and one that's going to take some outstanding performances by more than just Booker and Warren for them to have a shot at getting a win.
A win would be fantastic but realistically I'm just hoping for a good, competitive game.