Preview: Suns (49-26) at Pistons (23-51)

Suns 109, Pistons 104

Suns

Pistons

With a close call against the Bulls and a game that was too close for comfort against the Nets, I keep thinking it has to end sometime.

That may be my natural sports pessimism getting the better of me, but how long can this team really go? The Pistons are beyond beatable, having lost nine straight games (as opposed to the Suns’ nine straight wins).

The Pistons haven’t had a decent win since beating Houston 110-107 on March 7 in overtime, but even the Rockets aren’t playoff material. In fact, the Pistons have only beat playoff teams seven times all season. However, they have beat the Celtics twice, as well as the Hawks and Magic, and that’s three of the Eastern Conference’s top four. So clearly, the Pistons can make it happen on given nights … but not very often.

The last time these teams met, the Suns stomped on the Pistons 111-91. No Piston scored more than 13 points and six Suns scored in double figures, including four of the starters. If the Suns can shoot 57.5 percent like they did this game, I like their chances

The day off was certainly a good thing for the Suns after back-to-back close games. It gives Steve Nash a chance to rest his back and the entire team a chance to refocus. There isn’t much to be said about the way the Suns are playing right now that hasn’t been covered. They are simply bulldozing their way to the end of the regular season.

Three straight wins without injured Robin Lopez has been very impressive, considering the impact the second-year center has had on the team’s play since moving into the starting lineup. Statistically, Lopez isn’t a monster night-in and night-out. Channing Frye has better numbers. But, as we have established, Lopez brings intangibles.

Between strong defense, a physical presence and the ability to rebound, Lopez offers something the Suns have needed for years. He’s still improving, but he is mostly now and will be in the future the big man the Suns need to match up with the Carlos Boozers, Tim Duncans and Yaos of the NBA.

Going for their 10th straight win, the Suns may get a look at the feisty group of Pistons that can beat the league’s top teams. The Suns have won three straight against Detroit, but have lost four of their last six at the Palace. However, if being really bad weren’t enough, the Pistons are banged up too.

Center Jason Maxiell (back)  is questionable and backup Ben Wallace could be limited, so that means potential for a lot of Kwame Brown. Advantage Suns!

Guard Richard Hamilton (ankle), the team’s leading scorer with 18.1 points a game, is listed as questionable for the game, but his backup Ben Gordon is no slouch, the team’s third-leading scorer adding 13.0 points per game.

A win tonight would give the Suns win No. 50 and their fifth 50-win season in the past six. But in the grand scheme of things, what matters most right now is keeping the momentum rolling with the two or three spot in the West still attainable.

Dallas does not play tonight, and Utah plays the Lakers. If the Suns get a win and the Lakers beat the Jazz, the Suns will sit tied for second in the Western Conference.

On the face, this looks like another day at the office and number 10 of the win streak, but as usual, the Suns have to stay alert. If the last few games are any indication, they are ready to keep winning.

Tags: Detroit Pistons Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns Preview

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