When: Sunday, Nov. 5 — at 1:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Arizona’s Family 3TV
Listen: 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2
Head coach Frank Vogel has started tinkering with lineups, replacing Josh Okogie with Keita Bates-Diop in Saturday’s starting lineup, a move I would stick with for now given Bates-Diop’s steadiness in his minutes.
In Saturday’s loss vs. the Philadelphia 76ers, Bates-Diop finished with just eight points but was efficient on 3-of-6 shooting and 2-of-3 from three, adding two assists with a steal, two blocks, and no turnovers in 24 minutes. His -2 was the second-best plus/minus among the starters behind Grayson Allen’s net-zero in 27 minutes.
Kevin Durant’s 31 points on 9-of-20 shooting with eight rebounds and two blocks is cool, but it’s become clear he can’t do this by himself. All other Suns shot 8-of-31 (25.8%) from three, which is just a recipe for failure.
Monty Williams’ Pistons are also riding a three-game losing streak following a 2-1 start where the one loss was a near-comeback in Miami against the defending East champs on opening night that just came up short.
We know Williams loves his pick-and-roll duos, and he’s got a budding great one in Detroit between point guard and former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham (22.7 ppg and 7.5 apg) and young center Jalen Duren (14.8 ppg and 11.6 rpg).
If the Suns can defend those sets well, it should be tough sledding for the Pistons in the half-court with all the shooting they lack around those two.
Devin Booker being available would make a huge difference as well, and one could connect the dots that both Mat Ishbia and Book himself would probably pick this game as the one to play in between this and the front end of the back-to-back in Philly. So he very well might be back in the lineup.
Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Keita Bates-Diop, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic
Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
Suns: Devin Booker (left ankle sprain) is OUT, Bradley Beal (low back spasms) is OUT, and Damion Lee (right meniscus surgery) remains OUT.
Pistons: Alec Burks (left forearm contusion), Bojan Bogdanovic (right calf strain), Isaiah Livers (left ankle sprain), and Monte Morris (right quadricep strain) are all OUT.
What to Watch For
One of the main things I’ll be looking at is how much this Pistons' approach does or doesn’t resemble what it was in Phoenix where guys like Booker, Okogie, and Durant each have at least a little familiarity and might be well-suited to attack or defend it.
If Detroit is switching a lot like Williams did before, the Suns should utilize guard screens for Durant to try and open up looks for him where he can just shoot over defenders. I’m sure he’s tired of working so hard for his looks after the team’s been so shorthanded to start the season.
Keys to a Suns Win
Adhere to the scouting report. This is a pretty easy team to gameplan for as long as you’re attentive about it.
- Show Cunningham high-low pressure in the screen game
- Lay off Hayes and Thompson threes, close out on Stewart threes
- Make Jaden Ivey work on defense
If the Suns can stick to these principles, it’s a winnable matchup with or without Booker.
Suns finally lock things in, playing well on both ends and getting an added boost to the tune of 25-plus points and eight-plus assists from the face of the franchise.
Suns win, 114-107.