Team Records: Portland (9-6) at Detroit (3-13)
Game Info: 4:30 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 750 the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -6.5
Refs: Tom Washington, Mark Lindsay, Rodney Mott.
The Skinny: Following a victory over Toronto that featured a massive night from LaMarcus Aldridge (Aldridge was the first Blazer to have a 31 point, 21 rebound night since Maurice Lucas in 1977) the Blazers head to Detroit to try and finish off their road trip with a 3-3 split. They face a Detroit team that might make last night’s Toronto squad look competent by comparison. The Pistons have lost four in a row and 10 of their last 11.
Last season: The Blazers swept the season series 2-0. Portland has won six straight versus Detroit.
Projected Pistons Lineup:
PF: Ben Wallace (VCU, 16th season) – .9 PPG, 3.1 RPG, .5 APG
SF: Tayshaun Prince (Kentucky, 10th season) – 11.9 PPG, 3 RPG, 2 APG
C: Greg Monroe (Georgetown, 2nd season) – 16.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.9 APG
SG: Ben Gordon (Connecticut, 8th season) – 14.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.5 APG
PG: Brandon Knight (Kentucky, rookie) – 11.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 3.2 APG
Player to Watch: Greg Monroe (pictured at right) – It may have gone unnoticed last season, largely because he played for a bad and boring Detroit team, but Greg Monroe had a very good rookie season. Monroe is not the most athletic player in the world and so may not have a lot of long-term upside, but he makes the most of what he has. He is a great passer for a big man and does a good job finishing at the rim, although he does have a tendency to get his shot blocked quite often. On defense, he is a very good rebounder but often gets abused by bigger players. This is perhaps because Monroe physically is not really a center but more of a power forward. He has blossomed this season, averaging nearly a double-double, being a ray of light in what has otherwise been another lost season for the Pistons.
Did You Know?: Ben Wallace is the 17th player in NBA history to record 2000 career blocks. He is the shortest among the men that have accomplished this feat.
Portland: Out – C Greg Oden (knee)
Detroit: Questionable – PG Will Bynum (foot), PF Charlie Villaneuva (ankle), PG Rodney Stuckey (groin)
There are bad teams that are somewhat entertaining, but Detroit is not one of them. The Pistons are both bad and ugly to watch, on both offense and defense. Detroit runs the slowest paced offense in the league, and the least efficient outside of the Wizards. They also turn the ball over by far the most of any team in the NBA. Detroit has yet to even hit 100 points in any game so far this season. On defense, they aren’t much better. Often lazy and distracted, they routinely get burned by opponents, and their defense is ranked only above New Jersey. Detroit might hang around for a bit, but when a team puts pressure on them, they simply fold. If the Blazers can’t beat this bunch, they are in far worse trouble than any of us think.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They are focused. Detroit is an awful team. If the Blazers are focused, they should be able to win this one going away.
Detroit wins if: They make lots of threes. The three times Detroit has won this year, they have gotten hot from deep. They will have to do so again to have any hope Saturday.