The Phoenix Suns (22-47) have won four out of their last ten games, but have suffered three straight home defeats; most recently to the Orlando Magic, 103-109. T.J. Warren led the Suns with 26 points, five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, Tyler Ulis added 19 points and eight assists, Marquese Chriss had 13 points, eight boards, and four rejections, while Alan Williams contributed with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Devin Booker is the man to watch for the visitors as he didn’t have the best of games against Orlando and will likely bounce back in this one in a matchup with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, while Warren should continue with his fine displays as he faces Marcus Morris. Eric Bledsoe is done for the season with a knee injury, as well as Brandon Knight with his back issues.
The Detroit Pistons (33-36) are in ninth place in the East and are a win behind the Heat and Bucks for the final playoff spot. This game is a must win for them to stay alive in playoff contention. Detroit has won five of their last ten matches, but they have lost three consecutive games, including their latest one at home to the Toronto Raptors, 75-87, mostly because of the final quarter when they scored only nine points.
Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 20 points and six assists, Tobias Harris had 14 points and seven rebounds, Jon Leuer added 12 points and five boards, while Andre Drummond scored only eight but recorded 22 rebounds and two steals.
Jackson and Harris are the players to watch for Detroit as they have rather favorable matchups against Ulis and Chriss, while Drummond should dominate the paint and boards against the weak Phoenix’s frontcourt.
Keys to the Game
Phoenix reached a new low after scoring a mere two three-pointers against Orlando and that simply won’t work tonight, so they have to improve their perimeter shooting. Although they are without Bledsoe and Knight who can contribute from beyond the arc, Phoenix still has a few sharpshooters who can hurt opponents from the outside such as Booker, Dudley, and Warren. The Suns may find it hard to penetrate the rim for easy baskets, so the outside shooting must work or they are doomed.
Detroit had a similar performance after they scored three shots from beyond the arc which is a huge reason why they lost the game to the Raptors. However, they are facing a much weaker defense here and should be fine from the perimeter, but I don’t think they will focus on scoring threes. Detroit will use Drummond’s superiority below the rims and exploit his strength and skills to defeat the Suns, so a 20+20 performance from the big guy is on the cards.
Phoenix Suns Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Ulis / SG – Booker / SF – Warren / PF – Chriss / C – Len
Booker and Warren will likely lead the visitors in points, while Chriss, Ulis, and Williams should provide support offense as well.
Detroit Pistons Projected Starting Lineup
PG – Jackson / SG – Caldwell-Pope / SF – Morris / PF – Harris / C – Drummond
Jackson and Harris will probably score over 40 points tonight, but Drummond’s contributions on both ends of the floor will be crucial.
Detroit simply must win this game and I don’t believe the Suns can pull off an upset, considering that they are missing a couple of key players.
Tip-off is at 4:30 pm ET – The Palace of Auburn Hills – Detroit, MI