The Suns have won three of four, and Friday night’s game offers a chance at both continued momentum and revenge.
Phoenix lost in heartbreaking fashion to Detroit back on Jan. 11, when a Josh Smith bank shot with 1.2 seconds left sent the Pistons to a 110-108 win over the Suns. At the time, Phoenix was in the midst of an eventual 1-4 road trip.
With their momentum reversed, will the Suns also reverse the outcome? Five things will factor into the answer.
The last time these teams played, the Pistons outrebounded the Suns 59-45, a disparity that included a whopping 20 offensive rebounds for Detroit.
Andre Drummond, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe all finished with double-figure board numbers in that game, making the need to box out a team-wide affair for the Suns.
The Suns are one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the league, holding opponents to just 34 percent shooting from downtown (second-best in the league).
Phoenix, however, may want to sag off on the outside due to the Pistons’ threat (or lack thereof) from three. Detroit shoots just 31.4 percent from beyond the arc, second-worst in the NBA.
Role players will play a large role in this game. Andre Drummond (neck) is questionable to play, empowering Greg Monroe and reserve big men Jonas Jerebko and Charlie Villanueva with more opporutunities than usual.
Phoenix, meanwhile, is coming off a game that saw its bench score essentially half (54) of the team’s 109 points.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the eighth pick in last summer’s draft, came up big for the Pistons in their win over Phoenix, finishing with nine points, 10 rebounds and two steals off the bench.
Suns rookies Alex Len and Archie Goodwin have made significant strides since that game, each providing sparks off the bench, including against Orlando on Wednesday.
Don’t be shocked if at least one of them plays a key role.
Should the score remain close toward the end of the game, it will be important for Phoenix to maintain confidence, especially after the close loss to Detroit in January.
Something worth remembering: the Pistons are second-worst in the league shooting percentage and fifth-worst in team plus-minus in the final five minutes of the game.
If the Suns can stay confident in their own identity and game plan, they should be fine in this particular matchup.
The season is winding down! Don’t miss your chance to catch arguably the “best story in the NBA” in action right here at US Airways Center! Head on over to Suns.com’s Ticket Central to get your tickets now!