Detroit Pistons (17-21) at Portland Trail Blazers (16-22)
Jan. 8, 2017, 6:00 PST
Watch: CSN NW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Festus Ezeli (out)
Pistons injuries: Aron Baynes (doubtful), Reggie Bullock (out)
SBN Affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys
The Portland Trail Blazers will be riding the momentum from a solid victory over the Lakers on Thursday and looking for consecutive wins when they host the Detroit Pistons tonight, whose stop in Portland serves as the starting point for their upcoming five-game road trip. Both teams have struggled to live up to expectations early on, but there’s still plenty of time left on the schedule to turn things around.
Despite enduring a nightmarish December of their own, the Pistons have enjoyed some recent success. Coach Stan Van Gundy has made some changes to his starting rotation—inserting Jon Leuer in place of Tobias Harris—resulting in a more balanced offensive output. Leuer provides Detroit with some much-needed outside shooting, while Harris has thrived coming off the bench.
Andre Drummond is still the guy the Trail Blazers should fear the most, as the Pistons’ massive center has had some monster games when facing Portland. In his visit to the Moda Center last season, Drummond amassed an astonishing 27 rebounds while carrying Detroit to victory. He will be a handful on the boards, but his defensive numbers have been sluggish to start the year. While remaining active on the glass, Drummond is currently averaging the fewest blocks per game of his career.
Detroit’s attack is rounded out by a pair of athletic guards, who are capable of giving Portland’s talented backcourt some problems. Reggie Jackson appears to be hitting his stride after missing the first month of the season, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the better two-way guards in today’s NBA.
Crossing paths with a scrappy Pistons squad shouldn’t derail Damian Lillard’s return from injury. His passing proved to be one of the biggest differences in Portland’s win on Thursday. If Lillard struggles with his own shot, he will continue to find quality looks for his teammates.
Even with Lillard back in the fold, CJ McCollum continued his streak of stellar offensive play. McCollum isn’t alone, as Mason Plumlee has shown glimpses of being more than just a supplemental player on that end of the court. Add in Maurice Harkless’ solid defensive efforts, and you have a team that appears ready to rally in the second half of the season.
Portland has to be focused heading into tonight’s game, though, as Detroit doesn’t allow many easy buckets. The Pistons own the stingiest defense when it comes to second-chance points and points off turnovers, so the Blazers must avoid carelessness on offense.
Building an early lead by utilizing solid 3-point shooting should provide Portland with a path to victory. Detroit will be tough in the paint, but they struggle to shoot consistently from deep. If Drummond is kept somewhat in check, the Blazers have a decent chance at securing a victory for the second time in three days.
Blazer’s Edge Night 2017
Want to assist us in sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game this spring? Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how to get involved, and help spread the word!