Phoenix Suns (47-22) +3, 206 at Detroit Pistons (49-20), 7:30 pm Eastern Monday
by Zman of Predictem.com
A week or so ago, the Phoenix Suns were on their way down the Western Conference ladder, and the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal was the biggest blunder of the season. Seven consecutive wins later, Phoenix is banging on first place’s door, and the Big Diesel is providing the inside muscle the Suns hoped he might.
Phoenix now takes that seven-game winning streak on the road, beginning with a visit to Detroit and a bout with the Pistons Monday night.
NBA betting boards list Central Division-leading Detroit as three-point home chalk for Monday’s game, with a total of 206. The Pistons are also posted at around -175 on various Vegas moneylines, with the Suns getting +150 as road underdogs.
Phoenix shot 57% from the floor and made 38 of 40 free-throws in beating Houston Saturday 122-113. The win pulled the Suns to within a half-game of the Los Angeles Lakers for the lead in both the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. But Phoenix is also just two quick losses from being in sixth place in the tightly packed West.
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Detroit, meanwhile, is on cruise control. The Pistons lead the Central Division by 10 games over the Cleveland Cavaliers, but are six games back of the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference race, and 4 games ahead of third-place Orlando. Detroit has also lost two games in a row after falling Sunday at Washington 95-83.
In the first meeting this season between these inter-conference foes, the visiting Pistons pounded the Suns 116-86 back on Feb. 24, Shaq’s third game with his new team. Detroit led that game by 18 points at the half and by 36 at one point early in the fourth quarter. The Pistons outshot Phoenix from the field that day 52% to 42%, and outrebounded the Suns by a 48-32 margin.
Last season, these two teams split their two games, with each team winning on the road (Detroit 105-83 and Phoenix 108-101).
This season, the Suns 33-34 against the spread, and 21-12 straight up and 17-14 vs. the numbers on the road. Meanwhile, the Pistons are 37-31 ATS this season, and 27-6 SU and 20-13 vs. the numbers at home.
Statistically speaking, Phoenix ranks 2nd in the league in scoring at 111 points per game, while Detroit ranks 2nd in scoring defense at 91 ppg.
The Pistons rank 2nd in point differential at +7.2 per game, the Suns 6th at +5.1.
Phoenix is shooting 50% from the floor as a team this season, which leads the league, 39% from 3-point range and 78% from the free-throw line.
At the opposite end of the court, Detroit is shooting 46% from the field, 38% from long range and 76% from the line.
Also, the Suns rank 11th in the league in FG defense at 45.5% and 27th in rebounding at -3.4 per game, although that number has improved since Shaq got to town. And the Pistons rank 3rd in FG defense at 44% and 7th in rebounding at +1.7 per game.
On the injury front, Phoenix guard Raja Bell missed Saturday’s game with a sore ankle, and he’s listed as day-to-day/questionable for Monday.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Detroit 3rd at 96.7, the Suns 6th at 95.0. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.5.
The o/u is 39-30 in Phoenix games this season, which are averaging 215 total points, while the totals are 32-36 in Pistons games, which are averaging 189 points.
Zman’s Pick: Under 205.5