A two-point home opening loss has the new-look Phoenix Suns thinking the same thing as the Pistons right now: one game at a time. The Pistons have lost four straight at Phoenix's Us Airways Center, but this year's Suns rotation won't have the same look as it has in years past. Phoenix has nine new players on the roster after parting ways with Steve Nash and Grant Hill, and the team's new parts are still trying to figure each other out. With the Lakers, Thunder and Nuggets coming up, the Suns are one of the few beat-able opponents on the Pistons' six game Western Conference road swing.
Like Nash, new point guard Goran Dragic likes to push the ball and the Suns
have the starting personnel to run with him. The downfall of the Pistons in their loss to the Rockets was a fourth quarter collapse fueled by Lin and Harden pushing the ball on a Detroit
defense that could not get back. If the Suns
push the pace, and there's no reason to think they won't, the Pistons will have to do a better job of getting back and finding their defensive assignments. Dragic had 17 points and eight assists against Golden State on Wednesday, he's the kind of guard that can score and find the open man in transition. If the Pistons don't sure-up their transition defense, Dragic will be a problem.
In the front court, center Marcin Gortat
is the only returning starter. Tayshaun Prince will match-up with the athletic Michael Beasley, and Jason Maxiell will be asked to handle the skilled Luis Scola
. Beasley is still busy not living up to his potential and chipped in only eight points and four rebounds in Phoenix
's home opening loss. But Beasley does have a size advantage on Tayshaun Prince if he wants it. Luis Scola
is a multi-talented scorer with the ability to hit a fade-away high bank shot or post up on the block. Besides needing Monroe's size to guard Gortat, Monroe is too slow to defend Scola. The Pistons will need Jason Maxiell to bring the dirty-work intensity he brought against Houston in guarding Scola. If Maxiell can't bother Scola's offense, the Pistons might see Scola post the same type of 15 point, 11 rebound double-double he did against Golden State.
As Monroe matches up well with Gortat, Knight well with Dragic, and Prince and Maxiell with little advantage, the Pistons big strength on offense will be Rodney Stuckey
. Scoring only nine points against Houston, mainly on free-throws, Rodney Stuckey
's quickness will cause trouble for the 6'7" Jared Dudley. Stuckey couldn't find his jump-shot in the home opener, but he was able to drive on the Houston guards, allowing him to either get to the line or set-up his teammates for one of his six assists. Stuckey's first move cross-over should allow him to blow past Dudley, opening up teammates as Phoenix
's help defense shifts or clearing a path straight to the basket. If the Pistons get the win in Phoenix
, expect Stuckey to be a big part of it.
The Pistons veterans have wisely harped a one game at a time
motto with the young rotation this season. Not to look ahead, but a loss in tonight's one game
makes the rest of the Pistons' Western Conference road slate a little more daunting. If the Pistons want to avoid the poor start they began with last season they need to take care of their winnable games, and on the road in Phoenix
is a winnable game.
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, Detroit Pistons
, Luis Scola
, Marcin Gortat
, Phoenix Suns
, Rodney Stuckey