Portland Trail Blazers (4-2) vs. Detroit Pistons (4-1)
Sunday, November 8
Moda Center | 6:00 p.m. PST | Local TV/Radio: CSN NW; 620 AM
Portland injury report: Gerald Henderson (Out) | Detroit injury report: Jodie Meeks (Out), Brandon Jennings (Out)
SBN Affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys | Blazer's Edge Night 2016
The Portland Trail Blazers (4-2) will face off against a hot Detroit Pistons (4-1) team in the Moda Center at 6:00 PST tonight.
The Blazers are hoping to win their fourth consecutive game, coming off a 3-0 week highlighted by a 19-point stomping of the Memphis Grizzlies on national TV. Portland has been led by the prolific scoring of its starting backcourt of Damian Lillard (27.3 points per game) and C.J. McCollum (22.2 ppg).
The Detroit Pistons have also exceeded preseason expectations, streaking to a 4-1 record with victories over Atlanta, Utah, and Chicago. Pistons center Andre Drummond is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and is averaging 18.6 points and 19 rebounds per game.
Instead of writing a traditional preview we decided to do a Q&A exchange with Gabriel Frye-Behar from our sbnation affiliate Detroit Bad Boys. Gabe offers some great insight into the Pistons' outlook for the rest of the season, as well as tonight's matchup with the Blazers.
UPDATE: You can check out my side of the Q&A over on Detroit Bad Boys.
Q: Much like the Blazers, the Pistons have gotten off to a hot start. They’re 4-1 and have beaten several presumptive playoff teams. We all know that Andre Drummond has been playing out of his mind, but the Pistons defense has also been exceptional. Detroit currently has the second best defensive rating in the league at 94.6 after finishing No. 19 last season with a rating of 106.4. What has been the impetus behind this massive improvement? Is it sustainable for a full 82 games?
Q: The Blazers and Damian Lillard agreed to a maximum contract extension this summer. In doing so the team lost about $10 million in cap space, but guaranteed that its franchise player would be around for several more seasons. The Pistons made the opposite choice with Andre Drummond, opting to negotiate his presumed maximum contract next season. Do you think that was the right choice, or would you have preferred that Drummond be extended this summer? Also, Greg Monroe signed a qualifying offer and left Detroit last season; theoretically Drummond could now do the same. How has that experience affected reactions to Drummond’s non-extension?
A: Hopefully Pistons fans aren't being naive, but I would put the concern that Drummond would leave at maybe 1% (the story of Monroe's departure really goes back to Joe Dumars absolutely bungling things towards the end of his GM tenure). With that in mind, the general sentiment that I've seen is support for the decision to wait on an extension. I think SVG has sold Drummond on the idea that the Pistons roster is closer than people realize to championship contention, and the difference between a roster that tops out at a 2nd round exit and one that could theoretically compete for a championship could be in those extra few million dollars in cap space the Pistons will have because of Drummond being willing to wait on an extension. It's a gamble, but it seems like all the stakeholders are on exactly the same page.
Q: Marcus Morris is averaging 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds, after being acquired from Phoenix for a second round pick in a salary dump. Do you see him as a part of the Pistons’ long term plans?
Q: What are the Pistons' keys to the game tonight against the Blazers?