Pistons vs. Suns preview: Final game of West Coast road trip

Detroit Bad Boys

For us East Coach people, the West Coach road trip is always the worst part of the season because you either have to sacrifice sleep to watch the games or not watch the games at all. And in the case of this road trip, it was one of the Pistons’ best stretches of basketball of the season.

Last night’s game against the Lakers was ugly, but before that, the Pistons had a competitive loss to the Clippers and a couple of wins over the Kings and Trail Blazers. Stealing a couple of games on the road is good for any team, but especially for a team that only has 8 wins on the season.

However, the Pistons will now face another team with a lot of star power in the Phoenix Suns to close out this road trip, and the Suns have been hot the last few months.

Game Vitals

Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ
When: Wednesday, February 14 at 9 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Suns (-12.5)

Analysis

The Suns will be a bit short-handed as Bradley Beal has been ruled out for tonight after suffering a hamstring injury in last night’s game. But, the Suns still have Kevin Durant and Devin Booker and the Pistons have nobody that can defend either.

The Suns enter this game as winners of 6 of their last 8 games, and they appear to finally be hitting their stride after getting off to a rough start to the season. It is crazy that a team with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, even if Bradley Beal was hurt at the beginning of the season, could be under .500, but the Suns were 14-15 on Christmas Day.

Since falling to the Mavericks on Christmas Day to fall to 14-15, the Suns have only lost 7 games. Part of that coincided with getting a healthy Bradley Beal integrated into the team, but it was mostly due to Devin Booker and Kevin Durant putting the team on their backs.

The Suns obviously have a lot of star power in their starting lineup and have gotten solid contributions from Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkic. But their bench, outside of Eric Gordon, has left a lot to be desired. They did swing a trade for Royce O’Neale at the trade deadline, which should help along with the addition of Thaddeus Young on the buy-out market, but the Suns’ fate this season will be determined by the health of their big three.

The Pistons played a game last night that they probably want to forget. They got off to a terrible start against the Lakers and were not able to recover from it. They cut what was a 20 plus point lead in the 3rd down to a 12 point lead in the 4th, but ultimately fell 125-111.

The Pistons are trying to integrate 8 new players into a team that already wasn’t that good while facing playoff-tested veteran teams on the road, so a game like that was bound to happen. But games like that have been happening partly due to baffling coaching decisions.

The key to the Pistons strong play at the beginning of this road trip was the fact that Monty Williams was forced to rely on his starters because of all of the trades the team made. The Pistons had very few bench players outside of their 2-way players, so Monty had no choice but to stagger starters and play them heavy minutes. You would think that would be an eye-opener for a respected coach like Monty Williams, but logic seems to have escaped him this season.

Now that Williams has a whole bench of players at his disposal he decided to play all-bench lineups last night with guys who are playing together for the first time. He also still insists on playing 11 players. I am sure part of the decision-making is trying to figure out who will be in his rotation after the All Star Break when the Pistons are likely fully healthy, but it is still frustrating to watch a team with such a small margin of error, make things even more difficult through the decisions of their coach.

The starters were not good against the Lakers, which probably played a bit of a role in that decision, but it is also something Monty Williams has been doing all season, so I don’t think he has earned the benefit of the doubt.

If the Pistons want to have a chance in this game, they will have to rely on their starters heavily, just like the Suns do. However, the Pistons starting lineup will still be outclassed, so it will take much better games out of Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (8-45): Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson, Simone Fontecchio, Jalen Duren

Phoenix Suns (32-22): Devin Booker, Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Kevin Durant, Jusuf Nurkic

Question of the Day

What is your ideal Pistons starting lineup when the team is fully healthy?

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