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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons Preview

The Pistons come to town with some new faces.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

As of this writing the Portland Trail Blazers have not made any NBA Trade Deadline deals. It’s a nervous time for players and their families, and games on deadline day can be rather odd. With existing injuries for both teams and the potential for trades it’s hard to know who will actually be on the floor. There doesn’t seem to be a lot chatter about any impeding trades for Portland, but you just never know.

For those Blazers who don’t get traded they’ll have a long stretch of seven games that span both sides of the All-Star game. Portland won’t hit the road again until March.

The Detroit Pistons have taken the opposite approach to the Blazers. They already done some business, and the Pistons seem more likely than the Blazers to make a deal on Thursday. They are also opened up a seven-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings. Surprisingly, they beat the Kings 133-120. They’ll get little rest and they face Portland less than 24 hours later. Their long road trip is broken up by the All-Star game and they won’t play at home for two-and-a-half weeks.

Portland Trail Blazers (15-35) vs. Detroit Pistons (Don’t Ask) - Thursday, Feb. 8 - 7:00 p.m. Pacific

How to watch on TV: Root Sports, NBA League Pass

Trail Blazers injuries: Robert Williams III (out), Moses Brown (out), Shaedon Sharpe (out), Deandre Ayton (questionable), Scoot Henderson (questionable), Jerami Grant (probable), Jabari Walker (probable)

Pistons injuries: Isaiah Stewart (out), Cade Cunningham (questionable), Bojan Bogdanovic (questionable)

Bucks SBN affiliate: Detroit Bad Boys

Blazer’s Edge Reader Questions

From kacee:

How many years has Detroit been a lottery team? How similar is this to the Blazers who are still “rebuilding” after 3 years (counting this year)?

The last time the Pistons made the playoffs was the first season for Dwayne Casey as head coach, 2018-2019. Since then they’ve picked 7th, 1st (Cade Cunningham), 5th and 5th. They haven’t won a playoff game since 2007-08, only making the playoffs twice since then. When they made the playoffs they got thumped 0-4 in the first round both times. They’ve basically been in some mode of rebuilding for a decade-and-a-half. Portland’s rebuilding path was bit muddy until the day Lillard was traded to Milwaukee. While they certainly tanked for a better pick, one could argue that they didn’t truly embrace the rebuild until this past summer. The other big difference is that Detroit has it’s anointed superstar-apparent in Cade Cunningham. While Portland has a few candidates to be a break-out star there are no guarantees that anyone currently on the roster will make an All-Star game much less be the player the front office will build around.

From kacee:

Last year it made sense they regressed with Cade only playing 12 games, but what happened this year? I don’t think anyone expected them to have fewer wins than the 17 they scrounged up last year.

It’s been rough. Coach Monty Williams has been trying different combinations of players all season and seemingly hasn’t found a single combination that he really likes. One big problem is floor spacing. The Pistons are 28th in the NBA in attempts from beyond the arc and are 24th in three point shooting percentage. Not helping matters is that their most reliable and prolific shooter from deep has missed over 20 games.

The other criticism I hear a lot is that they have collected unproven players who have too much positional and skill-set overlap. How many big men who can’t space the floor do you need? How many guards that don’t play well off the ball should you have on the roster? Perhaps their deadline trades will help balance the roster some. Sometimes even some non-splashy trades can have a bigger impact than one would think. We’ll see.

What To Watch For

  • Protect the ball and you’ll probably win. The Pistons are the 2nd worst team in the NBA committing turnovers. That’s bad enough, but they are also the worst team in the NBA in getting steals. Opponents make the fewest turnovers against the Pistons compared to every other team and makes more steals. It’s nigh impossible to win basketball games when you are just spotting the other team extra possessions. The Blazers aren’t great shakes at preventing turnovers themselves but they are in 8th place in steals. This is a pretty simple way for Portland to win the game. Hold on to the ball when you have it and take it from Detroit when you don’t.

What Others Are Saying

A very good piece on Marcus Sasser by James L. Edwards III in The Athletic. (subscription required)

Listen to this: Sasser has a legitimate chance to become the first rookie in NBA history – and 10th player overall – to be part of the 50-40-90 club, a fictitious but celebrated institution for a few of the game’s most efficient scorers. Sasser is shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from 3 and 90.6 percent from the free-throw line.

The trade of Monte Morris to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Troy Brown Jr. and Shake Milton raises a lot of questions for Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys.

Whether this is a vote of confidence in Sasser as a point guard or in Ivey playing the lead ball handler when Cade is off the floor is unclear. It could also mean Killian Hayes will remain a Piston and play backup point guard. Recently, it appeared Killian had lost his spot in the rotation entirely and it didn’t take long for reports to surface that his reps wanted their impending restricted free agent on a new team with a chance at playing time.

Locked on Pistons has their reaction the trade that’s bringing Simone Fontecchio to Detroit.