Pistons vs. Pistons Preview Suns: Streaking Pistons close road trip against Wests Best

The Detroit Pistons will play their sixth and final game of a grueling West Coast swing tonight against the conference-leading Phoenix Suns.

Each team will be without key players from their pre-season tournament. The Suns have been without duo Chris Paul (heel) and Cameron Johnson (knee) since November 8 due to injury. Whereas the Pistons would dress without the services of Cady Cunningham, Isaiah Stewart, Friend Bay, and possibly Killian Hayes. Hayes was included in the questionable list for tonight’s game after going off with a left calf injury in Wednesday night’s win over the Jazz.

Even with the bad luck of the injury, the Pistons managed to stay competitive in all five games of their West Coast trip, picking up a pair of much-needed wins in their final games.

Although the 11-6 Suns reside at the top of the Western Conference, they are not the bulwark of previous years. If Detroit can pull off the same intensity as the nights before, there’s a chance they’ll go home an improbable . 500 split from the aforementioned scorching road trip.

lively game

When: 9 p.m. ET
where: Imprint Center, Phoenix, AZ
Watch: Bali Sports Detroit
Prospect: +12 pistons

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets

Ron Chinoy, USA Today Sports


3 things to watch:

1, Kevin Knox

Kevin Knox has been great in his last three contests. The former lottery pick posted season-highs in three straight games, culminating in a 21-point outing against the Utah Jazz Thursday night.

Beck’s ankle injury to the Lakers opened up rotation minutes for Knox and the 23-year-old took full advantage. In 24 minutes, he averaged 16.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in the three games Detroit played without Bay.

While the scoring numbers are positive, Knox’s rebounding and defensive activity has been equally important to the team’s recent success. Even if he was prone to a mistake here and there, his 6-foot-9 frame and willingness to do it all helped him recover after mistakes.

He still has a lot to prove before he can be declared a successful reclamation project, but Knox is definitely getting his rotation minutes for the foreseeable future.

Phoenix Suns at Philadelphia 76ers

Photo by Mitchell Leaf/Getty Images

2. The brilliance of Booker and the development of offensive bridges

With Paul and Johnson injured, Devin Booker and Mikal Bridges shouldered the scoring burden for the Suns. With 17 games played, the wing duo are the Suns’ first-and-two leading scorers, each averaging career-highs in points per game. Booker 27.4 points and Bridges 16.3 points per night.

In the glass-cleaning, decks featuring Poker and Bridges outperform opponents by 10.1 points per 100 possessions. While Booker continued his dominance as a midrange killer, Bridges changed his offensive style for the fifth season.

The Villanova producer is currently trying to perfect his shots on the edge and in the middle range. And even though his percentages from those areas are a bit low, he still converts with clips above the league average.

The offensive package that Bridges has built far exceeds what a typical “3&D” player displays. As the 26-year-old gets into his prime, he’s positioned himself to be one of the league’s true stars.

Detroit Pistons at Utah Jazz

Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images

3. Rebound

In his first two seasons with Monte Williams as coach, the Phoenix Suns were a rebounding offensive team in the bottom 10, with Williams prioritizing transitional defense over second chance points.

So far into his third year in charge, Williams appears to have turned his scheme around, imploring his players to smash glass after teammates got it wrong. According to NBA.com, the Suns currently rank sixth in the league for offensive rebound percentage, capturing one-third (31.5%) of all available offensive rebounds.

Suns center Deandre Ayton is expected to lead the team with 2.8 offensive rebounds, but their runaway wingers, Bridges and Craig, have been flying in from the perimeter collecting fouls. Both wing flecks are averaging over 1 offensive rebound each at the moment.

This kind of rebounding presence could spell trouble for a Detroit team that ranks 26th in the NBA for defensive rebounding. Bringing Doreen into the starting line-up might make sense tonight. Despite his occasional lack of defensive rebounding, Duren provides a more solid inside presence than the understated Marvin Bagley.

Coach Casey has shown increasing confidence in Doreen lately, running with the 19-year-old as a senior in the Pistons’ past two games. Maybe tonight he chooses to start two roles?

expected lineups

Detroit Pistons (5-15)

Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Levers, Marvin Bagley III

Phoenix Suns (11-6)

Cameron Payne, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Torey Craig, DeAndre Ayton

Question of the day

Would Cameron Johnson do anything for you as a restricted free agent?

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