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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons Preview

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The Blazers look to pick up a badly needed win against a middling Pistons squad.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (25-32) vs. Detroit Pistons (19-39)

February 23, 2020 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: Rodney Hood (out), Zach Collins (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Damian Lillard (out)
Pistons injuries: Blake Griffin (out), Luke Kennard (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW
How to stream: Blazer’s Edge Streaming Guide
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys

With as many as five teams competing for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers could certainly use a win. The Detroit Pistons are just waiting for the lottery pick they’ll get, so the time is as good as any.

Last time out, the Blazers looked lost in a defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans 128-115 on Friday. CJ McCollum had 27 points and 10 assists, but Portland struggled heavily on defense in the loss. Zion Williamson scored 25 to lead New Orleans.

For the Pistons, they were run off the court by the league’s top team, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks 126-106 on Thursday. Christian Wood gave 18 points off the bench, but the team had no answer for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 33 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.

What to watch for

  • Rally Time. The Pistons are in complete sale mode. The top scorers on the team who have not been waived to find new homes or traded at the deadline are either injured or Derrick Rose. Past Rose, the team’s leading scorers are Wood (11.3) and Langston Galloway (10.2). They have won twice in their last thirteen games. If there was ever a time to make up some ground on the rest of the pack, now is it.
  • Solve the Paint Problem. One major issue that has flared up for the Blazers is teams abusing their lack of depth among bigs by getting Hassan Whiteside, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel into foul trouble. The Blazers are at the bottom of the roster: they cannot afford a player to foul out, and that helped sink them against the Pelicans. The wings must provide help down low to keep the bigs out of foul trouble.
  • CJ Explosion is Due. This is a game where CJ McCollum can thrive, and the Blazers could certainly use a 50-point outing to get his mojo back. Portland only makes the playoffs if both McCollum and Lillard play at their absolute best. Lillard has brought his A-game, McCollum needs to reacquire his.

What they’re saying

Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys asked who the irate fans will direct their vitriol towards now that punching bags Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson are gone:

Drummond, traded for nothing to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Jackson, waived so he could catch on with the Los Angeles Clippers, somehow became a symbol of everything wrong with the Detroit Pistons. This despite the fact that the two were, on a talent level, two of the only things that have gone right in Detroit since Dre was drafted out of UConn in 2012. When the two were on the court together the team was actually pretty damn good.

Dana Gauruder of the Detroit Free-Press talked about new signing Derrick Walton Jr.:

Walton has learned the hard way that job security can be a lot more fleeting at the next level. A dozen point guards had their name called during the 2017 NBA draft. Walton wasn’t on that list.