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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns (32-9) visit Detroit Pistons (10-31)

The Suns will face an early morning (afternoon on the East coast) battle against a young Pistons squad.

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

What: Phoenix Suns (32-9) @ Detroit Pistons (10-31)

When: 11:00 AM AZ Time — EARLY TIP!!

Where: Little Caesars Arena (Detroit, Michigan)

Watch: Bally Sports Arizona

Listen: 98.7 FM


The Phoenix Suns have the best record in the NBA at the halfway point of the season, sitting at 32-9. They will look to keep the good times rolling and extend their win streak to 3 games against a young Pistons team.

This is a rescheduled game that was originally supposed to take place on Thursday, which would have made yesterday’s game against Indiana the second of a back-to-back. Instead, they face Detroit early Sunday morning/afternoon and then travel to San Antonio the next day for their game against the Spurs.

Ultimately I think the realignment worked out in their favor a little bit, but they cannot overlook Pistons. Just ask Utah and Toronto. Detroit has actually won three of its last four contests (all without Jerami Grant), who will be out for at least another week or two.

Projected Starters

Phoenix

  • Chris Paul
  • Devin Booker
  • Mikal Bridges
  • Jae Crowder
  • Deandre Ayton

Detroit

  • Killian Hayes
  • Hamidou Diallo
  • Cade Cunningham
  • Saddiq Bey
  • Isaiah Stewart

Injury Report

Phoenix:

  • Cam Johnson (Questionable)
  • Frank Kaminsky (OUT)
  • Dario Saric (OUT)
  • Abdel Nader (OUT)

Detroit:

  • Jerami Grant (OUT)
  • Frank Jackson (Questionable)
  • Kelly Olynyk (OUT)
  • Rodney McGruder (Questionable)
  • Chris Smith (Questionable)

We will await updates on Cam Johnson, but my guess is it’s more likely for him to sit this one out, then suit up against the Spurs to avoid playing in back-to-back games while dealing with his ankle injury.

Keys of the Game

  • Contain Cade

Cade Cunningham has hit his stride the past six weeks or so, averaging 17.7 PPG, 5.8 APG, 5.1 RPG, 1.4 SPG, and 0.7 BPG on 43/40/83 shooting splits in his last 17 games. While Evan Mobley is the clear frontrunner for ROY, Cade has put himself into the conversation after a slow start.

I’m sure Mikal Bridges will be tasked with guarding the talented rookie, so that’ll be the matchup to watch.

  • The ShamPayne Game?

In their win over Indiana, Cam Payne and Landry Shamet combined for 19 points on 13 shots with 5 assists and 0 turnovers in 44 minutes total between the two. Hopefully, they can start to hit their stride together and lead the second unit as they were envisioned to. I’m feeling a big “ShamPayne” game incoming.

  • Don’t give them hope

In the first game of a back-to-back against a bad team, the last thing you want to do is rely on heavy minutes from your starters to close out the game. In a perfect world, the Suns play efficient, calculated basketball for the first three quarters and the bench has enough of a cushion to rest the starters for the 4th quarter.

There are no guarantees against a young and hungry team like Detroit, they’re not going to quit and have nothing to lose, so Phoenix cannot take their foot off the gas.


Along with Cade, Trey Lyles has been playing some of the best basketball of his career, scoring in double figures in 8 of his last 9 games. Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo, and Cory Joseph have also stepped up to fill in for the injured Jerami Grant, so they’re getting production across the board right now.

Even former Suns fan favorite Josh Jackson has given them decent production of late, as it’s been all hands on deck for Detroit.

Prediction

Phoenix has the best road record in the NBA (tied with Brooklyn) at 15-4, and I expect it to improve to 16-4 after this one.

Suns by 12.