- Teams: Phoenix Suns (21-14) at Detroit Pistons (15-22)
- Date: January 11, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons’ losing streak has ended. With talks surfacing that Josh Smith might be a better fit coming off the bench, the lefty had a game for the ages last night against the Philadelphia 76ers.
As great as Smith’s performance was, it is already a thing of the past. Detroit cannot rest on its laurels because they have a dangerous and exciting Phoenix Suns team coming to town.
Phoenix will be without Eric Bledsoe who is currently sidelined with a knee injury for an indefinite period of time. Nonetheless, the Suns have earned the respect of teams in the league by winning games in the tough Western Conference.
Heading into tonight, Phoenix is the seventh seed in the West and also possesses a scoring differential superior to every Eastern Conference team not named the Indiana Pacers or Miami Heat.
The Suns have been beating teams thanks to a solid offense that emphasizes ball movement. They are somewhat reminiscent of the San Antonio Spurs with the way they share the ball. Granted, they do not have the Spurs’ talent, but they possess part of their discipline.
Jeff Hornacek’s group relies on drive and kicks, pick-and-rolls and a few occasional post-ups to take advantage of defenses. Through it all, the ball rarely remains static. The end result is a team where every player on the floor is a threat.
What’s more, Hornacek uses lineups that complement each other quite well. For instance, Miles Plumlee is always surrounded by a multitude of shooters on the hardwood, which allows him to dive to the basket for catch and scores as well as a few back-to-the basket plays.
More specifically, NBA.com reveals that Plumlee spends roughly 60 percent of his court time alongside Channing Frye. Frye is a stretch big man that strategically drifts out to the perimeter to open the floor for driving lanes and plays on the interior for Plumlee.
According to Synergy Sports, 30.1 percent of Plumlee’s shot attempts stem directly from post-ups. He still has work to do in this setting because he is not great on this front, but he will surprise defenders every now and then with his footwork.
The tandem of Frye and Plumlee allows Goran Dragic to get creative with the ball in his hands. Dragic is a good ball-handler that loves to attack defenders off the bounce. He uses his dribble to create opportunities directly at the rim or set up teammates.
Keep in mind, because Phoenix players rarely remain static, Dragic is surrounded by players that consistently look for the open spot on the floor. Thus, the Suns do a lot of cutting and screening while the ball is in play.
Because so many teams in the league operate with heavy doses of isolations, some teams become accustomed to facing squads with very few offensive wrinkles. The Suns tend to stay away from typical one-on-one situations, and favor instead the involvement of every player.
The Pistons will be forced to defend the entire floor tonight by virtue of Hornacek’s offense. Phoenix will look to spread out the Detroit players and force them to make multiple rotations and close out on shooters. Provided that Brandon Jennings and company can manage this, they will have a chance at stifling the Suns’ offense.
Otherwise, they might be in a shootout if Phoenix is converting long-distance shots.