Pistons at Blazers preview: Defense must improve for Detroit to get back in win column

USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons have lost 10 of their past 11 games. They'll be looking to grind out a victory on the last game of their west-coast trip.

There are plenty of ways to quantify Detroit's struggles. Losers of seven in a row. Ten of 11. Their only victories (3) since Feb. 9 have come at the expense of the Wizards and Bobcats. They are truly a terrible team.

Detroit Pistons: 23-44 (8-23 road)
Portland Trail Blazers: 34-30 (21-11 home)
Detroit Pistons tickets

The Situation

It is no surprise that the Pistons have been awful since trading away Tayshaun Prince and Austin Daye and being without the services of Andre Drummond. It's also no surprise what the biggest culprit of their struggles has been -- horrible defense.

Detroit has allowed 105.7 points and 51.3 percent shooting while going 0-7 in March. In its previous game, Golden State shot 56.9 percent to hand the Pistons their 10th loss in 11 games, 105-97 on Wednesday.

Not helping things is the recent absence of Brandon Knight whose offense struggles have been well documented but he was turning into quite a proficient perimeter defender before injuring his ankle.

Short-handed and lacking bodies capable of providing consistent defensive pressure, the Pistons are going to have their hands full against the Blazers. LeMarcus Aldridge had 32 points and 10 rebounds in Detroit when the Pistons managed to best the Blazers 108-101. Aldridge dominates the Pistons like no other team, averaging 22.9 points per game over his career.

Probable rookie of the year Damian Lillard, meanwhile, has averaged 24.8 points and shot 54.5 percent while scoring at least 20 in eight straight contests - one shy of Portland's franchise record

Keys to the Game

Moose -- Greg Monroe has struggled offensively and defensively as no other big man can help take the pressure off of him on either end. Monroe is shooting 34.6 percent while averaging 13.0 points in four games since missing one with a sprained ankle. He'll also have to keep Aldridge and JJ Hickson in check.

Bench -- The only advantage the Pistons have is their bench. Not the Detroit's short-handed bench has been that good lately. But Portland has maybe the worst bench in the entire NBA. Eric Maynor is the only guard that gets serious burn while Portland's "big men" consist of rookie Myers Leonard and Jared Jeffries.

Bynum -- With Rodney Stuckey filling in for the injured Knight, Will Bynum needs to have one of his Bynumite-type games and just exert his will off the bench.

Question of the Game

Who wins the Big Ten tournament title?

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