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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons Preview

Two teams in the bottom third of the standings face off in Detroit.

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (26-44) vs Detroit Pistons (19-52)

The Portland Trail Blazers are finishing their second to last road trip of the season with a stop at fellow tank commanders, the Detroit Pistons. 11`out of the last 14 games have been on the road for Portland, and the last time they had three home games in a row was over a month ago. Also over a month ago was the last time Portland won a game on the road, but if the Blazers aren’t careful it could happen in Detroit.

The Detroit Pistons have been a miserable team for most of the year, but the signs are there that they are on a positive trajectory. They are certain to to be in the lottery again after this season, and their first overall pick from last year, Cade Cunningham, is the real deal. Moreover, they are showing glimpses of promise these days, winning the odd game and losing a bunch more by reasonably close scores. At this stage in the game Detroit might be a better team than the current iteration of the Blazers, but anything is possible when two teams at the bottom of the standings meet.

Monday, March 21- 4:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports NW, NBA TV, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Nassir Little (out), Jusuf Nurkic (out), Eric Bledsoe (out), Didi Louzada (out), Joe Ingles (out), Anfernee Simons (out), Justise Winslow (out), Josh Hart (out)
Pistons injuries: Chris Smith (out), Hamidou Diallo (out), Frank Jackson (out), Jerami Grant (out) Corey Joseph (questionable), Kelly Olynyk (questionable), Killian Hayes (questionable) SBN Affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys

What To Watch For

  • Cade Cunningham. Cunningham is living up to expectations as the first overall pick in the 2021 draft. Averaging 12.7 points per game and 5.4 assists, there are no complaints from Detroit about his progress. Incredibly, there are least three excellent rookie of the year choices, and Cunningham is certainly in that group. Detroit got a good one.
  • How far are the clubs willing to go to lose this one? Detroit is currently in position to share the best odds for the first pick with Houston and Orlando. The Blazers could easily make their pick better or make it worse depending on how the rest of the season goes. Both teams have a pretty big incentive to lose. Will we see some last minute “injuries”? Puzzling DNPs - Coach’s decisions? Stay tuned.
  • Bad shooting. One of the main reasons Detroit is in prime lottery position is that they can’t shoot. The Pistons are second worst in the NBA in field goal percentage and in three point percentage at 37.9% and 32.7% respectively. The Blazers are better at 38.7% from the field and 35% from deep, but still not great. Sometimes basketball is pretty simple. Whoever shoots better is probably going to win.

What Others Are Saying

Rookie of the year candidate Cade Cunningham isn’t going to be the final choice writes Andrew Kulha of sportscasting.com.

Cade Cunningham likely won’t be the NBA’s Rookie of The Year. If that wasn’t clear before the Detroit Pistons matched up with presumptive favorite Evan Mobley and the Cleveland Cavaliers for the last time in the 2021-22 season, it was after.

Killian Hayes may have found a comfortable role according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

With Killian Hayes’ move to the second unit, he’s starting to find some smoother sailing and feeling more comfortable in his play.

One of the benefits is getting to play more with big man Marvin Bagley III. The two have found some chemistry, with Bagley being the lob target that enables Hayes to utilize one of his strengths, either in transition or in certain matchups in half-court sets.

What a night for Saddiq Bey. Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys writes about Bey’s 51 point game against the Orlando Magic.

On Thursday against the Orlando, it all came together for one magical night. Bey became the youngest player in franchise history to score 50 points in a game and his 51 points was the most for any non-lottery pick during the first two seasons of their career. The accolades go on. He joins Damian Lillard as the only players to ever crack 50 points with at least 10 rebounds and 10 3s in a game and tied Joe Dumars’ franchise record with 10 made 3s in a game.