Preview: Detroit Pistons (0-1) at Phoenix Suns (0-1)

Phoenix Suns 92, Detroit Pistons 89



PHOENIX — Fresh off a disappointing season-opening loss to Golden State, the Phoenix Suns will host the Detroit Pistons tonight in an important game because of what a loss would mean.

Of course, no second game of a season is really all that important — for example, I think that 0-2 team with all the Hall of Famers in LA is going to be just fine — but if the Suns drop a pair of home games to the Warriors and the Pistons, that’s the kind of start that can set the tone for a losing season.

The Pistons could be better this season with Greg Monroe taking a step forward and rookie Andre Drummond potentially showcasing his uber-talent as the year goes along, but this is still a Detroit franchise that hasn’t been relevant since 2007-08. If you can’t win a home game against one of the worst teams in the East, who can you beat?

It’s true that the Suns open their season with five winnable games out of their first six (at Miami being the obvious outlier), yet while that sounds nice on paper it doesn’t matter if the Suns don’t win them. Heck, even a bad Suns team — if that’s what this is — should be able to handle the Pistons at home.

The big question coming out of the opener surrounded why the heck P.J. Tucker played more minutes than Michael Beasley, so it will be interesting to see how head coach Alvin Gentry handles his rotations tonight. An hour before tipoff, Gentry sat in his office and explained how he expects Beasley to become “the man” for this team, and I highly doubt he became disenchanted with his play in a matter of minutes.

But Tucker was going well, and Gentry’s always been the kind of coach who runs with the hot guy, even if that means leaving Amare Stoudemire on the bench for a crucial fourth quarter against Dallas a few years back or finishing a game with his bench when that unit’s hot.

“I’ve just never been a coach that says, ‘OK, these are my starters, this is our rotation,’” Gentry said. “What if the guy that’s supposed to come out just made seven straight shots? I’ve never been a pitch count guy. If a guy is throwing a one-hitter and he’s up to 118 pitches, maybe he’s having a great night. I’ve just never been a guy that believes it’s time for a guy to be subbed out because he’s played eight straight minutes or anything like that. I think you’ve got to do it on feel. That’s all a part of coaching. Generally you can have a rotation, but I don’t think it’s anything that you’re married to. I think you’ve got to do it on a per-game basis.”

The other question revolves around whether Wes Johnson will be starting the season as a deep reserve, or if Gentry just liked the matchup with Tucker. I expected Wes to be the primary backup at the three and for Tucker to take on that role at times when the Suns desired a different look, but perhaps P.J.’s tenacity will win him the former No. 4 overall pick’s spot in the rotation.

It will likely take weeks for Gentry to solidify a base rotation, and even then you will see him leave in a hot player or perhaps use a deep reserve when he likes a particular matchup.

That rotation will come, but now the Suns need a win before hitting the road for three. After all, if they start out 0-2 at home against Golden State and Detroit, what would that say about their chances for the rest of the season?

Tags: Michael Beasley P.j Tucker

  • bk

    Is the extension window for Wesley Johnson closed?

    • Michael Schwartz

      He didn’t have an extension window as he’s only a third-year player, but his fourth-year team option was declined so he will become a free agent next offseason as expected.

  • DBreezy

    “Heck, even a bad Suns team — if that’s what this is — should be able to handle the Pistons at home.”

    Based on what? Traditional expectation? They’re both lottery teams and the Suns have a lot more new parts and the Pistons have several players that would be very welcome additions to the Suns roster. Frank is no Mark Jackson.

    One of my best friends is a Pistons fan and I usually go to this game (not this year), expecting a W, but I really can’t call it this year. The odds makers have the Suns as a 4pt underdog. It really wouldn’t shock me to the see the Pistons win this one after a really strong start by the Suns. In fact if Maggette was healthy for their 2nd unit, I’d make them the favorite.

    I’m not sure that it would be the end of the world though as this article and several more like it around the web seem to imply. Despite a summer of talk about transition, trust in new players, and comfortability with the direction of things, there seems to be a palpable sense of urgency for it all to come together very quickly. Not so much from the fans, but from those on or covering the team. If we were a team anyone outside of PHX cared about, Beasley-gate would have been dominating the headlines the last 2 days which is outrageous. Almost as outrageous as the need to crown PJ Tucker after one game. It’s going to be a process however it turns out. However you get the sense that if they lost tonight and Sunday, but got really hot from 3 on Monday and smoked the Heat that there would be a ticker-tape parade coverage wise.

  • Geminid670

    @DBreezy – No doubt. I’ve never quoted Kobe and likely never will again, but ‘shut up and let us work’ seems appropriate for this Suns team as well.

    I respect coach Gentry for remaining focused on the task at hand regardless of the Suns’ brass seemingly dangling the carrot of a contract extension based on how successful he is in guiding an 85% new team through the improved western conference.

  • Scott

    I would have preferred it if the opening schedule for the Suns was full of top teams. Then they could have some extra practice on teams they weren’t going to beat anyway, and have the opportunity to whet their skills against top competition.

    Starting out with hardly any chemistry and going against the worst teams in the league … if they lose, this in itself could keep the Suns out of the playoffs.

  • DBreezy

    On the one hand, the Suns dodged a major bullet with the Eric Gordon situation-an ironic one at that. On the other hand, Harden looks mighty fine thus far, looking like someone who would have been worth giving stuff up for.

  • Ron

    Robin Lopez 19 points on 16 shots in 36 minutes! Some important late defense that didn’t show up in the stat line.

    You’re right about Eric Gordan.

    (Being a fan of another Western Conf team, I hope the Suns lose their lead against the Pistons. Nothing personal, though…)

  • DBreezy

    No offense taken, I don’t have grandiose expectations for the season. I just want to see development and if wins come great.