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Game 54 Preview: Trail Blazers vs. Pistons

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Game Time:  3:00 p.m. Pacific  TV:  CSNNW

Another day, another opponent who's having a rough season.  The Pistons are winning at a .370 clip (20-34).  They're 13-13 at home, 7-21 on the road.  Of their 20 wins, victories against Atlanta, New Orleans, Dallas, and Orlando are the only ones to hang their hats on.  The others have come against sad sack teams.

The Pistons' main problem is that they can't score.  Rodney Stuckey leads them with 15.2 ppg.  Ben Gordon threw a rod the moment he hit the Motor City and now brings his 12.6 ppg average off the bench.  Rip Hamilton, once a lock to shoot above 45%, now barely clears 41% and contributes only 13.3 per game.  (He's also down with a groin injury and is considered day-to-day.)  Tayshaun Prince:  14.5.  Charlie Villanueva:  11.6.  Tracy McGrady 7.9.  2004 called.  It wants its stars back.

Ben Wallace and Chris Wilcox are shells of what they used to be.   Jason Maxiell has been injured.  If you're looking for a bright spot it's probably rookie small forward Austin Daye who is starting to contribute consistently, has an all-around game, and can shoot the lights out from three.  But that's kind of like saying, "Here's the spot on my carpet that's not stained.  Isn't it nice?"

The Pistons ride an ugly offensive trifecta of not scoring fast break points, not scoring in the paint, and not shooting well from the field.  Add in a lack of foul shots and you begin to see the abject misery that is their offense.  They're good beyond the arc.  That's about it.  They're the best in the league at taking care of the ball, sporting the fewest turnovers per game.  But that's wholly misleading.  They turn the ball over all the time.  They just put more arc on their T.O.'s than most teams.

On the other end they allow opponents to run, have trouble sealing the paint behind those ponderous big men, and are 29th out of 30 teams in the league in overall shooting percentage allowed.  Unsurprisingly their defensive efficiency ranks 25th in the league.

Against the Raptors on Friday the Blazers had to watch out lest they played too loose and got outscored.  There's no such thing against the Pistons.  Portland should look to up-tempo this game, play free and easy, and just score too many points for Detroit to match.  Even if one or two of the Piston stalwarts reach into the way-back machine and bust season-high nights Portland should be able to finish ahead.  The only mistake Portland can make is relying too much on the jumper, as Detroit defense and shoots from the perimeter well.  As long as the Blazers don't fall into a sniping contest this game shouldn't be a contest.

Read about Detroit's woes at Detroit Bad Boys (a phrase which now has a wholly new meaning).

Enter tonight's Jersey Contest form here.

Fair warning:  the recap will be late on a Sunday afternoon game.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)