Portland Trail Blazers (29-24) at Detroit Pistons (25-26)
Monday, February 5th - 4:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Evan Turner (out), Shabazz Napier (questionable)
Pistons injuries: Dwight Buycks (questionable), Luke Kennard (questionable)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBATV
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys
As they have done so many times this year, the Blazers will try to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss. After leading by 16 points at the half, the Boston Celtics surged back, ultimately defeating the Blazers with an Al Horford turnaround jumper as the clock expired.
Detroit enters the contest full of energy and optimism. In the middle of a three-game home stand, the Pistons are going for their fourth game in a row. The big story in Detroit is, of course, the blockbuster trade that brought them Blake Griffin. Detroit currently sits one spot out of the playoffs in ninth, but stand only a half game behind the Philadelphia 76ers. With Griffin now in the fold, the Pistons have the throttle on full and are expecting to fight their way up the standings.
What to Watch For
Blake Griffin. Duh. Long a thorn in the side of the Blazers when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland gets to face him in Detroit with that new car smell still in the nostrils of giddy Pistons fans. Griffin has had one very good game and one mediocre game so far with Detroit, but the Blazers can count on a difficult time against the big KIA spokesman. Keeping Griffin below 20 points and 10 rebounds would be a tremendous success and bode well for the Blazers’ chances.
The Blazers need to take and make threes. Detroit allows the third-highest opponent three-point percentage in the NBA at 37.6 percent. The quickest way for the Blazers to quiet the crowd and get the scoreboard ticking is to move the ball, find the open man and bury some threes. The opportunities for the Blazers should be there. Will they take them?
Who will win the turnover battle? This is a tall order for Portland. Detroit is sixth best in the league at forcing turnovers with 15.3 per game. Compare that to 12.5 turnovers forced by the Blazers, 29th in the NBA. Don’t be surprised if the winner of the turnover battle also turns out to be the winner on the scoreboard.
What They’re Saying
Vince Ellis of the Detoit Free Press reports that the arrival of Blake Griffin is helping the bottom line:
“We haven’t seen this kind of buzz from a trade since Rasheed Wallace and we’re feeling it from our fans and from a retail perspective,” Pistons chief revenue and marketing officer Charlie Metzger said before Griffin’s debut Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Griffin delivered on the buzz Thursday, scoring 24 points and adding 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in a 103-102 victory.
Integrating Blake Griffin is a work in progress according to Rod Beard of the Detroit News:
“Playing with Blake is still new to us. We had an hour and a half, and now we’ve had, what, two days now? So it’s still not the greatest stuff in the world, but if we can do that every night, regardless with what we have in, it doesn’t matter,” Johnson said. “We’ll give ourselves a really good chance to win, so we want to bring that to every game and it’s really great that we can do it now, especially not having the communication that we need.
“It’s not that we’re bad; it’s just kind of what we’re doing right now.”
The charge on coach Stan Van Gundy is to put all the puzzle pieces together and fit it into a pretty picture. So far, after two wins with Griffin in the lineup, it’s doable, but it’s going to require some refining.
It seemed that everybody in Little Caesars Arena was wearing a Blake Griffin jersey except for one key person writes Steve Hinson of Detroit Bad Boys:
Blake Griffin started his first second half as a Piston with his hands on his knees and laughing at himself while watching Anthony Tolliver start out the third quarter. A Pistons staff member soon brought him back an important piece of his equipment - his Pistons jersey.