West coast swing: first stop Phoenix

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (0-1) at Phoenix Suns (0-1)
  • Date: November 2, 2012
  • Time: 10:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons will take on the Phoenix Suns tonight as both teams are coming off a home loss. Part of the reason the Suns fell at the hands of the Golden State Warriors earlier this week was simple: turnovers.

Indeed, Alvin Gentry has a very limited amount of players capable of creating opportunities for themselves or teammates off the dribble and that manifested itself against the Dubs this past Wednesday as the Suns turned the ball over 18 times. This bears paying attention to because Golden State didn’t necessarily force the miscues, but instead profited from them.

Goran Dragic, Michael Beasley, Markieff Morris and to some extent Sebastian Telfair are the only players that can make good decisions with the ball when taking it to the basket. They can pull up for the jumper, go to the rim or feed an open teammate. The rest of the roster struggles when presented with all of these options and consequently may end up coughing up the ball. Naturally, the Pistons should try hugging Suns shooters and thus dare them to put the ball on the floor to make plays.

For all of their weaknesses on the perimeter, the Suns have a solid interior tandem in Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat. Both are quite good in either pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops and thus need to be accounted for at all times. Gortat is a good finisher at the rim and possesses a good right hook that he favors on deep catches in the paint.

Scola on the other hand is a threat from the perimeter with his jumper and is just as good in the low post. The Argentine favors the right block where he likes to fake towards the middle of the court and then turn to his left for the right hook shot.

Gentry likes to surround his post players with shooters and they do a good job of spacing the floor, routinely setting up shop at the 3-point line in the corners as they anticipate long rotations from their opponents in their pick-and-roll coverage.

On the other side of the ball, the Suns can be had on the interior because they lack the necessary perimeter players to keep opponents out of the paint. Where things get tricky mind you is when Gortat gets into the mix. Given his size, he is naturally inclined to remain below the free throw line in the pick-and-roll to concede the jump shot.

Consequently, ballhandlers can get opportunities to put up shots in these situations, but should they try to challenge the big man, it can be a losing proposition because he is quite adept at contesting shots. Even opposing big men can struggle to score against him because of his size and length. Mind you, his value as a defensive anchor is often tested because he will try to go after shots and thus can be coaxed into fouling.

In addition, because the Suns are poor perimeter defenders, they tend to lose or forget their rebounding responsibilities after opening up the lane, which allows big men to hit the offensive glass for second chance opportunities.

After so many years of having Steve Nash direct traffic for them, the Suns appeared to lack an identity against the Golden State Warriors as players tried to make plays that they did not necessarily have in their repertoires. The Pistons on the other hand have a little bit more continuity going for them and may in fact capitalize on this aspect in the contest tonight.

The Suns had issues with their execution in the fourth quarter against Golden State on both sides of the ball and Detroit may very well be able to take advantage of these issues as players tense up down the stretch of games.

Read about the Suns

Valley of the Suns.

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