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Preview: Slumping Suns square off with sputtering Pistons

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Detroit tries to make a last-second playoff push when they face the Suns tonight.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns host the Detroit Pistons

When: 7 pm AZ time

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena

Watch: Fox Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


Probable Starters:

Suns - Elfrid Payton, Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender, Alex Len

Pistons - Ish Smith, James Ennis III, Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Pistons

OffRtg = 103.8 (23rd), DefRtg = 105.4 (12th), NetRtg = -1.6 (21st)

Ever since the Detroit Pistons acquired Blake Griffin in January, they had a honeymoon period that quickly fazed out into where they are now. Since December, the Pistons are 2-17, and they were lucky to pick up a close victory last night in Sacramento before heading to Phoenix.

When looking at the swindling Jerry West did for the Clippers, he has to get a standing ovation. He turned Griffin’s max contract into two first-round picks, Boban Marjanovich, and Tobias Harris. They have a chance to add two lottery talents to their new stable of talent and rebuild on the fly instead of being tied down by Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

Detroit did this deal themselves because they knew it was nearly impossible to recruit superstar-like talent to Detroit. They still have 4+ years left on Griffin’s new deal, but was it worth it? So far, it seems like Griffin and the rest of the roster are starting to tune out Stan Van Gundy.

This same thing happened to SVG in Orlando and it’s happening again now. His voice grows thin fast and his ability as a general manager has been subpar at best thus far. If it wasn’t for his missteps in the front office, Detroit might have more flexibility to build a correct team around their above-average frontcourt of Griffin and Drummond.

For the Pistons, what should they do to fix this moving forward? Well, for one, this offseason should be very interesting for them.

If I was in their ownership group, SVG would be heading out the door in both of his roles while they find two different, younger voices to get through to their players.

Does this lead SVG to an interview with Phoenix this summer? Locked On Suns co-host Brendon Kleen suggested that could be a possibility if other scenarios don’t play out how they like. That sure would be a route to take if you are Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough.

Suns

OffRtg = 101.7 (30th), DefRtg = 110.5 (30th), NetRtg = -8.9 (30th)

After another blowout against Golden State, even in Josh Jackson’s career-best night, the Suns dropped down to 30th in all of the advanced metrics above during Jay Triano’s interim period.

As I have mentioned plenty throughout this season, especially over the last month or so, Triano’s defensive concepts seem to be systematically broken. Phoenix consistently gets points piled on them each game where the results are usually decided by the end of three quarters.

For the Suns to take steps forward next year with this young core, they will need to find a voice who instills discipline on both ends of the floor while also putting players in the best position possible to succeed.

Triano to have success this season would be hard to fathom with just how depleted this roster is of talent. He has abided by the front office’s duties and has earned an interview when the coaching search kicks off next month.

However, it should be noted that without Triano’s new point of view Jackson probably would have never progressed to the point he has. In our 1-on-1 sitdown interview on Friday, Jackson credited Triano for where he has come since a few months ago. He showed him different ways to look at the film and how to attack both ends.

Speaking of Jackson, he could be in line for another huge night offensively. After dropping 36 points on his mentor Draymond Green, could he score 30+ again with an easier matchup on him?

Jackson’s speed in transition should be utilized early and often by the Suns, especially if Booker and Warren both end up sitting this one out.

For the Suns to even keep this competitive, much like against those ragtag Warriors led by Draymond on Friday, they will have to run their system through Jackson.

In a season that was lost by entering the tank race with seven other teams, seeing these rapid progressions from Jackson alongside possibly ending up with the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history should bring a smile to Suns’ fans for a brighter future ahead.

Prediction

As Detroit looks to somehow catch Miami and or Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings, expect this matchup one they take seriously from the opening tip.

Also, how will Phoenix’s frontcourt be able to handle Griffin and Drummond, especially if Tyson Chandler is out again? I’m having a hard time finding the answer to that one since Dragan Bender, Alex Len, and Marquese Chriss will have to solve that puzzle.

With those factors being thrown in alongside the possibility of Devin Booker and T.J. Warren not playing leads me to pick the Pistons.

Will the Suns keep it below 20 points this time around?

Pistons 117, Suns 99