The Pistons begin a six-game West Coast roadtrip in Phoenix tonight. They’ll take on the now Steve Nash-less Suns, who lost their season opener 87-85 to the Golden State Warriors.
In that game, Luis Scola had a monster game against the Warriors’ big men, going for 15 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, three blocks and 54% shooting. Scola’s frontcourt mate, Marcin Gortat, had an equally solid game, tallying 10 points, nine rebounds and five blocks. The Suns’ big men are 32 and 28, respectively, meaning they likely won’t grow as players much more, but in a likely rebuilding season, getting them playing time to increase trade value would be a good idea for head coach Alvin Gentry.
Unlike Houston, who now has potential stars in James Harden and Jeremy Lin, Phoenix is full of scrappy players but not much talent. Aside from Gortat and Scola, the only Sun to have an impact in Wednesday’s game was Goran Dragic, who scored 17 points (on 12 shots), corralled six rebounds, dished out eight assists and stole three passes.
The 26-year old guard is on his second tour of duty with the Suns and will likely be the team’s starter for much of the season, but with 2012 lottery pick Kendall Marshall waiting in the wings, surely management will want to see what the 21-year old can do if this team begins to fall in the standings.
What the Pistons must do to win Friday’s game:
- Force the Suns to the perimeter – In their loss to the Warriors, the Suns shot just 4-of-21 from the three-point line, good for just 19% shooting. With such poor shooting, Phoenix was only able to grab 11 offensive boards, giving them fewer offensive opportunities. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell will need to have solid rebounding efforts.
- Protect the ball at the hoop – The Suns had 12 total blocks on Wednesday, a by-product of a tall and lanky frontcourt of Scola, Gortat and Michael Beasley. If the Pistons hope to have offensive success, they’ll need to make sure they take shots that seal off the defender, nullifying Phoenix’s defensive presence.
- Stop the dribble penetration – This is mainly from the Pistons’ defensive effort on Wednesday, not from the Suns’ game. Too often the Rockets beat them with back-door cuts to the hoop and easy lay-ins or dunks. For such a young and athletic team, they played very slow defense, and Lawrence Frank surely let them have it in practice for that.
Check back tomorrow for highlights from tonight’s game out west!